First Person

How North African Migrants Ended Up in Permanent Detention

Migrants in detention in Libya.
Migrants at the Tariq al-Matar detention center on the outskirts of the Libyan capital of Tripoli on Dec. 11, 2017. MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP/Getty Images

The Irish journalist Sally Hayden has traced the story of many of them.

Thousands of North Africans who fled their homes in recent years, hoping to obtain asylum in Europe, have wound up in indefinite detention in Libya and elsewhere—often in horrible conditions. Many of them had made the harrowing journey across the Mediterranean Sea by boat only to be sent back.

The Irish journalist Sally Hayden has followed the crisis since it began—and migrants have followed her, reaching out on WhatsApp and Signal, leaving messages and sending photos. Over time, she has investigated many of their stories. 

Hayden is our guest this week on First Person. Her story, “The U.N. Is Leaving Migrants to Die in Libya,” is featured on our website.

About First Person:  Each week on First Person, we conduct a narrative-driven conversation with one person whose experience illuminates something timely and important about our world. Our guests tend to be people who have participated directly in events, either as protagonists or eyewitnesses. We get them to tell their story, not just offer analysis. First Person is hosted by FP deputy editor Sarah Wildman. Sarah is an award-winning journalist whose stories have appeared in the New York TimesSlate, Vox and the New Yorker online. She is the author of Paper Love: Searching for the Girl My Grandfather Left Behind.  See All Episodes

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