Through what lens do we watch the news?
Today, press focus on the razing of Calais Jungle, call it a necessary response to this blight on France. Thousands of refugees wait to be bussed to 138 Accommodation Centers throughout the country.
Europe’s largest refugee camp has become a symbol of Europe’s failure to care for its refugees. Walls and fences separate them from their dream, and create a different blight, a tall rigid sentinel over the port city of Calais.
In spite of long lines, cold, and the apprehension of too little information, no fights have broken out. The French supplied ample details to the press, but sketchy ones to residents of Calais Jungle. Run by UK volunteers, Refugee Info Bus stepped up to provide details in seven languages. Volunteers with Care for Calais and Refugee Community Kitchen gave out food and hot tea. Unaccompanied minors were turned away because plans are still not in place for their relocation. Traffickers lurk, and tonight, with no apparent protection in place, everyone fears they might pounce. This is not hyperbole. During a demolition of the southern half of the refugee camp in March, 2016, 129 minors went missing.
Four weeks ago, Linda Khoury recorded a podcast with me and Expressive Arts Refuge singer Tawfic Halaby. On the air, with the hindsight of several weeks stateside, we focused on the remarkable community created by volunteers and residents in Calais Jungle – their resilience and sanity. Until today, volunteers had offered free meals, phone-charging, first aid, wifi, non-stop classes for adults and unaccompanied minors, and a generous welcome to all who had become refugees.
Good news: Some of our friends from the Jungle were welcomed to their new town. A robust welcome. A video of the refugees smiling, their hands on their hearts. Thank you, France!
Now, protect the unaccompanied minors. Today. Before it is too late.