The coronavirus pandemic intensified a refugee crisis, endangering millions of people who already were struggling to survive and obtain safety.
When Katie Dancey-Downs, a journalist in the United Kingdom, pitched Shadowproof a story about COVID-19 and asylum seekers, we knew we wanted to collaborate because of her commitment to covering refugee issues.
“So often when I pick up a newspaper or turn on the news, I find the media is getting it so wrong, and so I wanted to be a part of telling more of the story,” Katie shared.
Katie has traveled to Calais, France, to cover people who chase lorries and are awoken by police spraying them with tear gas. She has visited Uganda to hear human stories from refugees transforming their land into “organic kitchen gardens.” She has met Syrians in Turkey, who live in camps and harvest rose fields. They turn the petals into perfume.
“In the U.K.,” Katie mentioned, “I’ve met people making happy new homes, people desperate to return to their homelands and the children they were forced to leave behind, and those who are struggling to make their voices heard through a complicated asylum process.”
One of those people is Freh, an Ethiopian asylum seeker, who fled state-sponsored violence. Katie produced a documentary series pilot that demystified the hosting of refugees in homes.
“There was a lot of work behind the scenes with Freh,” Katie recalled. “We met up and spoke a lot before filming even began to make sure she knew she could trust us.”
Katie told both Freh’s story and the story of Michelle, who hosted Freh, to give people a sense of how easy it is to live with a refugee.
Like us, Katie recognizes the importance of elevating marginalized voices. She founded a platform called The Lush Times and was the co-editor of Lush Times, an affiliated publication.
She has investigated several important national security matters in the U.K., such as the British government’s role in drone strikes ordered by the United States and an undercover policing scandal, where police formed romantic relationships with women activists to spy on them.
Also, she recently became a parent and described her experiences as a new mom on lockdown.
Katie holds herself out as someone who will hold authorities to account and shine a light on the real refugee experience. We are glad we were able to work together with her, and we encourage you to support her work and read her report, “Countries Exploit COVID-19 Pandemic To Shut Down Borders And Block Refugees.”
Watch Katie’s short documentary, ‘Seeking Asylum From The Spare Room’: