Monday, 1 August 2016

'The Jungle'

ACIC is absolutely committed to being non-political and non-judgmental – its only concern being the welfare, health and education of children who find themselves in critical need.

Last week’s visit to ‘The Jungle’ in Calais was more than an eye opener. The visit was to gain some first hand knowledge and to assess the situation of young people who live in the refugee camp as it might relate to the situation of the children we work with in the Holy Land. As I wrote on my last visit in January the whole situation is a mess. Unaccompanied children live precariously amongst adults from different nations in the most foul conditions with no apparent solution in sight. I have worked in some ‘interesting’ places during my career and am mostly unshockable but to hear that children are prostituting themselves in order to raise money to pay traffickers shocked me to the core. As the result of this abuse of children by some within and some from outside the camp children are suffering enormous physical and mental trauma. I witnessed also some unbelievable and absolutely unnecessary brutality and intimidation from some of Police within the camp against both adults and children. Again, a I wrote on my last visit - Like all communities there are the blaggers and the criminals but the vast majority are good and decent people who are fleeing conflict or desperate circumstances. An army of volunteers supplying urgent humanitarian relief, made up of a hugely disparate group of people of all ages and backgrounds with a common cause. All, I think, with good, compassionate and giving hearts, some na├»ve, some more realistic but all just trying make a positive difference to those in need. It is with a feeling of impotence, though, that it is just a sticking plaster (an essential sticking plaster) on such an impossible situation.