A Conversation With Journalist Matthieu Aikins

Each year on June 20 the world celebrates the strength and courage of people who have been forced to flee their home country to escape conflict or persecution. World Refugee Day is an international day designated by the United Nations to honour refugees around the globe. World Refugee Day is an occasion to build empathy and understanding for their plight and to recognize their resilience in rebuilding their lives.

At Idea Exchange we work to mark this time of reflection and create opportunities for learning about the many and varied issues surrounding refugees. Past World Refugee Day guests have included Emmanuel Jal, Malual Bol Kiir and Ava Homa. Each of these guests has shared their specific insight into this most human of challenges.

This year we have the great privilege of learning from journalist Matthieu Aikins, as we discuss his new book The Naked Don’t Fear the Water. Having undergone the perilous journey on the “smugglers road” to Europe, Mathieu has much to share.

Afghanistan has suffered more than 40 years of conflict, natural disasters, chronic poverty and food insecurity. Facing an ongoing humanitarian crisis, the resilience of refugees, internally displaced people and host communities is slowly reaching its limit. Afghans make up one of the largest refugee populations worldwide.

“This book is Aikins’s profound act of love…A meticulously told story the world needs to hear now more than ever.” – Jessica Goudeau, The New York Times Book Review

About The Naked Don’t Fear the Water: Matthieu Aikins, a journalist living in Kabul, decides to follow his friend, a young Afghan driver and translator, as he makes the heart-wrenching choice to flee his war-torn country. In order to do so, Mathieu must leave his own passport and identity behind to go underground on the refugee trail with Omar. Their odyssey across land and sea from Afghanistan to Europe brings them face to face with the people at heart of the migration crisis: smugglers, cops, activists, and the men, women and children fleeing war in search of a better life. As setbacks and dangers mount for the two friends, Matthieu is also drawn into the escape plans of Omar’s entire family, including Maryam, the matriarch who has fought ferociously for her children’s survival.

This event is held in partnership with Idea Exchange and Your Bookish Life Book Blog.

Note this event will be happening on Zoom and Facebook Live.





Jun 16 2022


7:00 pm - 8:00 pm




Idea Exchange
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