Recently our own Jolyon Rubinstein visited the Jungle in Calais. Over the three days spent there, he was shocked by what he encountered; he wrote about it in depth here. To summarise, Rubenstein emphasises how we have to view the area as a camp full of refugees, hosting 15 different nationalities while 'in a refugee camp there are usually two nationalities, at max'. It includes eateries (boasting surprisingly good food, all things considered), shops, religious centres, cultural spaces and a women's centre.
Many of the people Jolyon met were formerly middle-class and are dismayed at their current conditions, yet retain their education and desire to regain their dignity. There are almost 500 army interpreters who worked with British soldiers during campaigns in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. Jolyon was particularly unsettled by the story of 15-year old Masud, a child who desperately sought escape from his conditions, boarded a lorry and suffocated to death en route to the UK. "How many people at home do you know who have actually overcome obstacles this big? Crossed oceans?” the actress and patron of Help Refugees UK, Oona Chaplin, asked Jolyon while the temperature hit -2.
A shelter being carried from the eviction site (photo: Saskia Rysenbry)
Jolyon unloading blankets from the distribution warehouse (photo: Saskia Rysenbry)
Two Sudanese men sitting on the truck that is transporting their shelter from the eviction site (photo: Saskia Rysenbry)
Jolyon and Oona sit with Dr Mohammed Adam Eisaballa (photo: Saskia Rysenbry)
Jolyon playing football with a group of Sudanese refugees on the eviction site (photo: Saskia Rysenbry)
Unforgiving rain and wind causes destruction for many parts of the camp (photo: Saskia Rysenbry)
Oona carrying insulation for a shelter. As temperatures reach -2, this is a highly sought after commodity (photo: Saskia Rysenbry)
A young girl from Iraq draws in the fading light in her small caravan she shares with her parents and two younger siblings (photo: Saskia Rysenbry)
Jolyon meets Ali, a representative from the Syrian community (photo: Saskia Rysenbry)