Hara Hotel chronicles everyday life in a makeshift refugee camp on the forecourt of a petrol station in northern Greece. In the first two months of 2016, more than 100,000 refugees arrived in Greece. Half of them were fleeing war-torn Syria, seeking a safe haven in Europe. As the numbers seeking refuge soared, many were stranded in temporary camps, staffed by volunteers. Hara Hotel tells some of their stories.
Teresa Thornhill arrived in Greece in April 2016 as a volunteer. She met one refugee, a young Syrian Kurd called Juwan, who left his home and family in November 2011 to avoid being summoned for military service by the Assad regime. Interweaving memoir with Juwan’s story, and with the recent history of the failed revolution in Syria, and the horror of the ensuing civil war, Hara Hotel paints a vivid picture of the lives of the people trapped between civil war and Europe’s borders.
“The intimate, deeply felt account of a volunteer who worked with Syrians during the years they were stranded in Greece, which, unlike so many stories of the refugee crisis, does not shy away from speaking about the forces that tore those refugees from their homes.”