Every day, Refugee4Refugee volunteers gather children from three to 12 years old and take them on an excursion to our plot of land, where they are typically found singing songs, playing fun games and doing creative crafts, especially out of recycled materials.
Yesterday, Le Stadio Seawatche held the FIFA World Cup for people held hostage at sea. Teams came from Sudan, South Sudan, England, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Holland, Ghana, Guinnea Conakry, Guinnea Bissau, and the Central African Republic. The winner was everybody. But mostly me. Football is an international language which bonds and unites communities. You can be from anywhere in the world and have nothing in common, but drop a ball, and we play. Don’t have a ball? No problem. We’ll make one out of rags and tape. And we will play.
The recent Channel boat crossings have created a media storm and, while this may have been an opportunity to emphasise the deep rooted issues in hostile European immigration policies and increasingly violent and impenetrable borders, the perspective of those most entrapped by the lack of legal routes has been omitted. These are a few snippets of conversations we’ve had with displaced families living in both Calais and Dunkirk, who have resorted to these desperate measures.
Chios is snowing and there is a desperate need to buy blankets for people in the refugee camp. People live in tents and sleep right on the plastic bottom of the tent. People are shaking with cold when they queue. At the last delivery I had a warm scarf that I used to warm ice-cold hands with. If you want to be a fellow man then this is the right moment.
According to the testimony of those who knew him, the man lived in a tent in the Olive Grove, an overspill area bordering Moria camp. He had friends who were sometimes able to host him in a container. For three weeks, the man had been complaining about the cold. Winter in Lesvos has been very bitter this year, with temperatures plummeting below zero at night.
This week I made the mistake of reading the comments section on an article about refugees rescued from a small boat in the English channel. I don't actually believe people are quite as malicious in real life as their online personas might sometimes suggest, but it's a good reminder that not everybody agrees with what we're trying to do.
For two years, since the Calais “jungle” camp was demolished in October 2016, the French authorities have inflicted the same heinous actions time and time again on the refugees who have found their way to northern France. Heavy-handed, intimidating evictions, destruction of tents, encampments, and personal belongings and police force, tear gas and brutality. Time and again it’s not worked, and yet still they keep going.