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Refugees and asylum seekers are among the most vulnerable and disempowered people in the world--and in Britain, they are also among the most vilified. Anti-asylum media campaigns have exercised enormous influence on government policy and political discourse, resulting in a belief that Britain is sinking under the weight of refugees. The facts show otherwise: two-thirds of the world''s refugees are in the Middle East and Africa, and Britain''s hardening stance means that the numbers entering now are rapidly shrinking. "Reluctant Refuge" attempts to show how current attitudes reflect a centuries-old tradition of ambivalence towards the world''s dispossessed, fuelled by economic protectionism and the unspoken need to maintain social cohesion. Woven throughout this important volume are the voices of asylum seekers and refugees, who attempt to illuminate their own uncertain and often challenging future.