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My Fourth Time, We Drowned

Seeking Refuge on the World's Deadliest Migration Route

The Western world has turned its back on migrants, leaving them to cope with one of the most devastating humanitarian crises in history.

In 2018, Sally Hayden received a message on Facebook: “Hi sister Sally, we need your help.” It was from an Eritrean refugee who had been held in a Libyan detention center for months, locked in one big hall with scant meals. Now, Tripoli was crumbling in a scrimmage between warring factions, and the refugees remained stuck, defenseless, with only one hope: contacting her.

With that begins Hayden’s staggering account of the migrant crisis across North Africa: from brutal, vindictive Libyan guards to unexpected acts of kindness; the frustration of visiting aid workers; fake marriages between detainees; the strain on real marriages; and the phenomenon of some refugees becoming oppressors after entering into Faustian bargains with their captors. With unprecedented contact with dozens of people currently inside Libyan detention centers, My Fourth Time, We Drowned will, for the first time, detail these stories.

In the future, people will regard this pivotal period with fascination and horror. The failure of NGOs and corruption within the United Nations represents a collective abdication of international standards that will echo throughout history. But most importantly, this book will highlight the resilience of humans: how refugees and migrants locked up for years fall in love, support each other through the hardest times and carry out small acts of resistance in order to survive in a system that wants them to be silent and disappear.