Gatrell studies the process which leads to the making of refugees in the twentieth century. In thefirst few chapters, he goes back on time and talks about the empires and their dissolution.
Afterthis, he mentions about the emergence of the new nation-states in Europe—the major area withrefugee population from all over the world. After the end of the Second World War, the refugeeproblem became a global issue which required immediate attention. Gatrell includes personaland gruesome experiences of people who are forced to leave their countries due to totalitarianregimes, international war, human rights abuse etc. According to him the origin of thedisplacement process was during the Great Wars. In one of the initial chapters, he is curious as tohow these people on the move became a problem (security threat) to the world and the processwhich would provide them with suitable solutions. He asks, “How the modern refugee came tobe construed as a ‘problem’ amenable to a ‘solution” (Page 5).
Rather than complying with this generalization where the refugees are considered to bevulnerable victims posing a security threat to the world, he argues that a global history ofdisplacement and suitable humanitarian aid requires a human attention. It is the common peoplewho are best suited to understand the plight of refugees and draft policies to provide a solutionfor the injustice meted out to them. He asks the readers whether refugees will be able to go backto their country of origin and how they would resettle there. He also enquires what it was to livein their own homeland and how did they adjust to the new circumstances in the host nation. Therefugee regime forces the displaced to accept their journey in the process of becoming refugees.He divides the twentieth-century history of refugees into three stages. In the first stage, he talksabout the Great War, the collapse, and the rise of nationalism in Europe.
He says that thisrevolutionary change created the first wave of refugees. States, international organizations, and