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.
A British child protection barrister by profession, Teresa Thornhill, like countless other citizens of the world, had been moved by the plight of mostly Middle Eastern refugees who seek better lives in Europe but instead end up herded into camps like cattle. 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.
“Thornhill overlays the wrenching refugee sagas with her personal quest to understand why Syria began its alarming unraveling in 2011. What she learned…will certainly enlighten casual followers of that nation’s bloodshed. A brave, affecting book about a continuing humanitarian crisis.”
Teresa Thornhill is a linguist, writer and child protection barrister with a special interest in the Middle East. Her previous publications include Sweet Tea with Cardamom: A Journey through Iraqi Kurdistan and The Curtain Maker of Beirut.