Mediating migration – a transformation – from observation to direct action

Three years ago, from a roadside in Kabul, I witnessed one of many refugee camps clinging to the outskirts of the sprawling city. The people inside were the survivors of another freezing winter in which young an old alike had frozen to death due to the hard choices between buying wood, food or clothing. They were the ‘internally displaced’ of southern Afghanistan, fleeing from fighting in Helmand between Taliban, local groups, and troops from my own country. Without means of provision, without employment, without hope and without freedom of movement, they, like the many others, were confined to scratching out a survival as best they could. Without security, and concerned about how justifiably unwelcome and Englishman might be, the nearest I got to the camp was to briefly walk to the circumference, where a group of kids were gleefully playing with a plastic yellow duck in a dirty open sewer. The innocence of children, who know no better than to keep playing is something I would see aga…

Freedom at 4am: Misadventures in Afghanistan

Book Available on Amazon
Freedom at 4AM is a true life tale of cultural clash in Afghanistan: from the political to the personal, from the spiritual to sexual. Set against a backdrop of history, geopolitics, religion and misadventure this immersive story climaxes with a unlikely call to prayer under life threatening circumstances...

"A powerful, sharply observed story of Marc Perry's experience working for an NGO in Kabul. He vividly conveys the underbelly of seediness and corruption of internationals; working in the shadows of violence, and death. Very readable - once the reader started, difficult to put down".
Donald Reeves MBE.

I was honoured to be one of the first people to own a copy and to read it. It was compelling, terrifying, eye-opening and heart-breaking. I’m extremely proud to know and to have worked with such a talented and brave journalist.
Lottie Gross, Editor, Rough Guides. 

What impresses me is that you’re fair to Afghans and Afghan culture, even as…

OP-ED. Brexit – The sun has finally sunk

One week on from the referendum I nightmarishly recall saying this time last year that I had no sense of victim-hood within my British identity; despite a strong subliminal sense of discomfort with the historically situated racism of the British Empire. How, due to self-inflicted wounds, do times change...

With no-one to blame but 'ourselves' the inexorable crumbing of the last vestiges of whatever was supposedly “great” continues, the sun has finally set with the implosion of the United Kingdom itself.
Poised at the beginning of the now inevitable break up of the Union – if the democratic voice to remain in Scotland is heardan existential cloud of crisis has set in over the island. An existential crisis caused by a mistakenly exaggerated sense of entitlement without compromise, of misplaced nostalgic memory of a golden era, of fear of the other – bloody Europeans! – and of a swagger that claimed we could somehow be better apart.
Without the crutch of European ideals our distort…

Greek Street Views on #Brexit

Only eight months ago the people of debt-ridden Greece were asked to vote in their own EU referendum. Their issue was whether to accept a bail out deal offered by the so-called Troika. Their question: “Should the draft deal put forward by the EU, ECB & IMF, be accepted?” Was not as straight forward as the one facing the British public: "Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?"
But stakes were portrayed similarly – as a knife-edge decision between being in or out of the EU. If Greeks voted NO the threat was they would be cast adrift with a return to the Drachma or, at the very least, a German engineered time-out from the union. Despite a NO vote of 60%, rejecting the terms, the Government of Greece accepted tough fiscal conditions and stayed in the EU. So what would an-albeit unscientific sample of Greeks think of the Brits leaving?
Marc Perry traveled to Northern Greece to find out:

Macedonian border town returns to normal, except for refugee reception camp

The sleepy railway station of Gevgelija has returned to normality. In the station cafe a smattering of smartly dressed Syrians smoke cigarettes in summer hats, a smiling Macedonian army officer drinks coffee, while a newly constructed train station cum reception camp 2 kilometers south of town processes 3-8,000 refugees a day.

"Thanks God," the Syrians in the cafe tell me, everything has been okay on their journey.

Where once dirt lines cut alongside the railway line south a path of river stone now connects Greece and Macedonia. An improbable amount of coordination seems to be taking place between these two sometimes antagonistic states. Army engineers still busy themselves ferrying stone from a tributary of the Vadar river - a geographical river running counter to the human river streaming north. Natural metaphors are dangerous, politicians use them to scare, but words are scarce when describing the scale of such an on-going human migratory flight. As we read, their migration…

Refugee families flood north to head off Hungary fence

Gevgelija, on the Greek - Macedonian border.

Northern Europeans, heading south for holidays, are fleetingly rubbing shoulders with hundreds of refugees moving in the opposite direction, escaping conflict, persecution and poverty heading towards Western Europe – from Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Eritrea & Somalia. Traffic on the refugee route: via Turkey > Greek Islands > Greece > Macedonia > Serbia > Hungary, has increased significantly during the last three weeks, prompting the UNHCR to declare anunprecedented emergency. The continuous stream of refugees indicates people are ready to make a last ditch attempt to cross into Western Europe before the new Hungarian Border fence with Serbia is complete. "Everyone is in a rush to get to Hungary," said one UNHCR official, who confirmed the crossing into Hungary was via unofficial border crossings in Serbia; i.e. fields.

UNHCR officials on the ground tell me that since the construction of the Bulgaria-Turkey…

Protests, pain and cutting through past propoganda

An in-depth look into unrest in Kosovo, brought to violent expression in February 2015.

A mining rights/privatisation issue was married with demands for the sacking of a Serb MP following a comment after an ice-throwing-at-pilgrims incident in Gjakova. The comment: “Savages in Djakovica have ruined the holiday for people who came to their houses that were burned [after the war in 1999],”immediately stirred tensions. Kosovo police arrested two members of opposition movement Vetevendosje for throwing ice at the bus. Protests throughout Kosovo spread in strength arriving in the capital Prishtina Jan 24th and 27th where a smaller section became violent. 160 people arrested on the 27th are set to face prosecution in the courts. Apologies from Communities and Returns Minister Aleksandar Jablanovic were not accepted and hints that it,"may be desirable," to depart  his position by PM Isa Mustafa finally led to his dismissal Feb 3. His comments were described by a young business owne…