Face to face with Europe’s des­per­ate refugees


Ė1<1 61A to wear an adult nappy at night be­cause she is too scared to go to the toi­let in case she is raped.

The 25-year-old from Iraq is one of an es­ti­mated 1,500 refugees who live RW ]QN ô[KWMN AāW]QN ûKVY K] 3^WTR[T 60 miles from where the no­to­ri­ous “Jun­gle” mi­grant camp was dis­man­tled five months ago.

6N[ QXVN ° K ÿXXM ûKLRW ÿR]Q K ûX[ ru­gated iron roof, is no big­ger than a YK[TRWP \YKûN AQN ^\N\ UKāN[\ XO M^þN]\ on the ground as mat­tresses, sleep­ing along­side women she does not know.

“It is re­ally im­por­tant you don’t walk around the camp on your own if you are a woman,” warns Clare Mose­ley, the founder of Care4Calais, one of the char­i­ties help­ing to pro­vide aid in the re­gion.

AQN R\ PRþRWP ]QN VX[WRWP L[RNORWP to a group of volunteers from the Jewish Coun­cil of Ra­cial Equal­ity (Jcore), some of whom were about to en­ter the ô[KWMN AāW]QN ûKVY OX[ ]QN OR[\] ]RVN

Ms Mose­ley ex­plains: “Dunkirk has al­ways had more women and chil­dren in­hab­i­tants than the Jun­gle be­cause of its sta­tus as the first in­ter­na­tion­ally recog­nised refugee camp in France.

“There is more struc­ture and it is of­fi­cial, but it doesn’t mean women here are safer. There is a lot of vi­o­lence and crim­i­nal gangs op­er­ate and try to con­trol a lot.”

I was one of six of 15 Jcore volunteers vis­it­ing the camp to help re­pair shel­ters, pick up lit­ter and reg­is­ter refugees’ mo­bile num­bers for phone credit.

Once through the iron gates which are guarded by French armed po­lice, our del­e­ga­tion is greeted by a large group of men, kneel­ing on the grav­elled ground with only sheets of card­board for prayer mats. They are fo­cused and calm, yet the back­drop of the camp is a con­trast of to-ing and fro-ing.

Women carry bags of clothes, while chil­dren run along­side them strug­gling to keep up, and groups of men smoke cig­a­rettes out­side their makeshift homes.

Ms Mose­ley says: “At the mo­ment ev­ery­body thinks the prob­lems in Calais have been solved, but they haven’t.

“The French and the Bri­tish have done a re­ally good job of mak­ing ev­ery­body think this prob­lem has gone away. But all they have done is move the chess pieces.”

Ac­cord­ing to the char­ity there are still up to 150 refugees sleep­ing rough in Calais, and more than 200 in small camps in the re­gion, along with 1,500 who live in Dunkirk.

Jackie Baines, head of de­vel­op­ment and com­mu­ni­ca­tions at the League of Jewish Women, says she was shocked to dis­cover there were un­der-age mi­nors trav­el­ling on their own, some as young as eight.

AQN NĀYUKRW\* ±7 QKþN K P[KWMMK^PQ ter that age. I could not imag­ine how she would fend for her­self in such a hos­tile en­vi­ron­ment.”

The 63-year-old adds: “I had never been to the Calais Jun­gle so al­ways re­lied on re­ports and ar­ti­cles for what it was like.

“I had thought that only young male refugees were left in Calais, but sadly I was wrong.”

;\ ;X\NUā \Kā\* ±ARWûN ÿN QKþNW´] been in the news the num­ber of volunteers we have has dropped. I know

There is a lot of vi­o­lence. Crim­i­nal gangs op­er­ate and try to con­trol a lot’ Clare Mose­ley

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.