Have you heard of UNHCR? It is also known as the UN Refugee Agency, and of course this name demonstrates its purpose ― helping refugees.

The agency emerged in the aftermath of WWII to help with all the refugees in Europe. It was supposed to be temporary, but unfortunately the need for the agency never ceased. Today, one in every one hundred people have been pushed out of their homes by war or political instability. Where there is tragedy, there is the need to heal, and one tool in the healing process is writing about the events. There are books being written recounting heart wrenching stories from refugees. If you would like to read those stories, visit your library.

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"City of Thorns: Nine Lives in the World's Largest Refugee Camp," by Ben Rawlence.

Situated hundreds of miles from any other settlement, deep within the inhospitable desert of northern Kenya where only thorn bushes grow, Dadaab is a city like no other. Its buildings are made from mud, sticks, or plastic. Its entire economy is grey. And its citizens survive on rations and luck. Over the course of four years, Ben Rawlence became a firsthand witness to a strange and desperate place, getting to know many of those who had come seeking sanctuary. Among them are Guled, a former child soldier who lives for football; Nisho, who scrapes an existence by pushing a wheelbarrow and dreaming of riches; Tawane, the indomitable youth leader; and Kheyro, a student whose future hangs upon her education.

In "City of Thorns," Rawlence interweaves the stories of nine individuals to show what life is like in the camp, sketching the wider political forces that keep the refugees trapped. Lucid, vivid, and illuminating, City of Thorns is an urgent human story with deep international repercussions, brought to life through the people who call Dabaab home.

"The New Odyssey: the Story of the Twenty-First-Century Refugee Crisis," by Patrick Kingsley.

On the day of his son's fourteenth birthday, Hashem al-Souki lay somewhere in the Mediterranean, crammed in a wooden dinghy. His family was relatively safe ― at least for the time being ― in Egypt, where they had only just settled after fleeing their war-torn Damascus home three years prior. Traversing these unforgiving waters and the treacherous terrain that would follow was worth the slim chance of securing a safe home for his children in Sweden. If he failed, at least he would fail alone.

Hashem's story is tragically common, as desperate victims continue to embark on deadly journeys in search of freedom. Tracking the harrowing experiences of these brave refugees, The New Odyssey finally illuminates the shadowy networks that have facilitated the largest forced exodus since the end of World War II.

Library Happenings

Preschool Storytime: Preschoolers and their caregivers are invited to join us for Storytime on Thursday, June 14 and Saturday, June 16 at 10:30 a.m. A different theme is explored each week. Daycares and other large groups are asked to call ahead.

Summer Reading Program: "I'll Take You There: a Musical Trip Through Time" is scheduled for Thursday, June 14 at 2 p.m. in the main meeting room of the Detroit Lakes Public Library. Music has taken pianist Nate Hance and fiddler Evie Andrus around the world. Travel along as they sing and play music from around the world and through history. Laugh, learn and sing along, with all sorts of music, from classical to bluegrass, jazz to Irish, and pop to country.

Library hours

The Detroit Lakes Public Library's regular hours are as follows: Monday-Thursday from 9 a.m.-7 p.m.; Friday from 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; and Saturday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. It is closed on Sundays and all national holidays.

For more information on local library services and programs, please call 218-847-2168 or visit your Library at 1000 Washington Ave.

Detroit Lakes Library is a branch of Lake Agassiz Regional Library (LARL), a consolidated public library system comprised of 13 branch libraries and nine LINK sites serving the residents of seven counties in northwest Minnesota. More information is available at www.larl.org, and the library's app, LARL Mobile, is available in the iTunes and Google Play stores for free download.