Tag Archives: Calais

March into madness – European chaos, and a tentative Syrian ceasefire

February 29 2016 was not the greatest day in European history. Fewer than two months into the new year, and just six months since the last time a European government’s police fired on unarmed men, women and children at its border, desperate people fleeing violence and terror had, once again, cast the world’s richest political bloc into political, legal and practical chaos. In its West, police fired teargas at refugees at the Jungle camp, near … Continue reading

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2015 and 2016: The international refugee crisis and the failure of Europe

It’s the morning of New Year’s Eve, and you’re in a car with three aid workers and a driver, heading from Izmir to buy blankets from a town three hours’ drive away. It’s freezing. Literally. There is snow in the air, and ice on the wind. In Izmir itself, a city not known for cold weather, people have stepped out of their apartment blocks, offices or cafes, stopped, stared and shrugged at the snow, buttoning … Continue reading

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As the sun sets on the Jungle, it brings in its wake a sense of exhaustion.

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Notes, Two. Miri

You meet Miri in a tea-shop (in fact, a tent, just as every other ‘location’ at the Jungle is a tent: the restaurants, the medical centre, the women’s centre, the homes, the mosque and the church – all are tents, nothing more). The tea is good, though a cardomam seed within it worries him momentarily.

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Notes 3. The Jungle, Calais: Refugees, and how the UK government could help itself

Not every story you hear from refugees is one of heroism, triumph over adversity, or harrowing despicable mistreatment suffered and overcome to reach a destination.

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Notes 5: The Jungle, Calais. Hamid, war and fences.

                  Hamid, Afghanistan If I could say one thing to the UK government I would say instead of spending so much money on fences and police*, spend it on refugees instead.

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Notes 6: The Jungle, Calais. Feeding ‘the’ 500 (and why it is never enough)

In late afternoon, you walk again between the camp’s central point and its eastern edge. In the watery early winter sunlight, and surrounded by thousands of people whose seemingly hopeless situation – unable to return home and unable even to apply to enter the UK – threatens to overwhelm you, you have the sensation of being submerged; of simultaneously being hindered and borne up as if attempting to walk on a sea-bed.

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Notes 7; The Jungle, Calais: Francois, France, the UK and the real world

‘I live in a little village by the sea. It is out of the real world. This camp, here, is part of the real world. ‘The real world is dictators. It is trouble, fighting and war. I cannot live near the real world and not be a part of it. I cannot turn away and not be a part of it.’

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Notes 8; The Jungle, Calais: Osman, family and UK law

                  Osman, Northern Iraq I came here yesterday. I had been in Paris with my family. They went to the UK, but I cannot get to the UK yet, so I had to come here.

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This piece was inspired by my genuine outrage – which I still feel, extremely strongly – at the firing of stun grenades by police at innocent men, women and children on the Macedonian border last Saturday (22 August). Since I completed it on Tuesday 25, seventy-one people have been found dead in the back of a lorry travelling through Austria, and yesterday (Thursday 27) around 450 people drowned in the Mediterranean when the boats they … Continue reading

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