George is the guest editor in today’s blog, describing his experience as a student, aged 22, helping out at “The Jungle” in Calais, France. This is an unofficial refugee camp on the other side of the sea from England. It is where the people smugglers dump people before they then try by hiding in lorries crossing the channel, or find boats to enter Britain. What ever the politics of refugees, we are very proud of George. August 2016
Hi mum , Calais is going really well. Quite the experience and one I feel very fortunate to be having! I have been meeting people from Ehtiopia, Eritrea, Chad, Ghana, Nigeria, Afghaistan, Pakistan, Sudan and even one Jamaican. Not many Syrians, I think because many have already achieved asylum. The conditions are quite dire. The refugees rely entirely on donations for their food, shelter and clothes, and the few charities that are working in the Jungle never have enough of anything. The Jungle, or Djangal which means a place where lots of different communities and people are all thrown together, is not recognised as a formal refugee camp. This means that none of the big charities are involved, no UNICEF, or Save The Children, or Medicine Sans Frontier. Just volunteer organisations like the one I am a working for called. L’Auberge Des Migrants.
The CRS, or the French immigration police, patrol the perimeter and have road stops on all the entrances. At night they chase the refugees who try to enter the port illegally, often firing tear gas at them or if they catch them beating them up. This means often we find refugees with twisted ankles, head injuries, bruises , broken bones etc.
I have been working in a vulnerabilities team and have been signposting those who are most vulnerable, women, children, LGBT, Ethnic minorities, those in need of immediate medical aid etc. The stories you hear and the things you see are quite overwhelming and particularly if it’s been a long day it can leave you feel very frustrated at the fact that there are now 8000 Refugees in camp and Britain, and France, are responding in a fairly disgusting manner.
Today there is a court case brought by the local province against the restaurants in the Jungle. The outcome of which will decide whether 30 or so restaurants making up the main area of the high-street will be closed. This most likely means a violent eviction will occur. These have been known to turn quite violent, with fires and tear gas etc so if things are going down I’ll do my best to stay well clear of the Jungle that day.
We have our first day off today so have decided to head to Arras near Lille. Love Gxxx
If any reader is interested in helping those in hardship, sending clothes or money please look at the French charity . L’Auberge Des Migrants. Or the British charity helprefugees.org.uk, Sorry I cant remember how to do hyper links.
Notes: The court case mentioned in the blog went in favour of “The Jungle”. It said it was illegal to remove the eateries, which saved a lot of hardship