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