Posts Tagged ‘Asylum Seeker’
“Refugees welcome” has been projected in giant letters across the iconic white cliffs of Dover, just before an alliance of racist far-right groups are due to hold anti-migration protests in the town of Dover. The projection was undertaken as a collaboration between campaign organisation Global Justice Now and guerrilla projectionists Feral X.
© Jess Hurd/Global Justice Now
We spoke to Amir living with his wife Maryam and their three-month-old child Rosie, nicknamed ‘The Jungle Baby’, in a tiny caravan donated by a UK aid charity, on the southern side of the refugee camp in Calais known at the Jungle, the side due for eviction.
They had been in the camp seven months. They had fled Iran and tried to reach the UK, but after Amir suffered illnesses that led to time in hospital and Maryam becoming heavily pregnant they became stranded.
Amir was Muslim and Maryam a Christian. When asked what religion Rosie would be, Amir gestured up and down with his hand, cutting Rosie down the middle from head to toe, “She will be half and half,” he laughed.
When Rosie was born at the local hospital, Amir claimed the French authorities forced him to register for asylum in France, saying if he did not they would take his baby away and give her to another family.
“They said they would not let me take my baby back to the Jungle,” Amir said.
Amir claimed the authorities said his family would be helped and given a small room if he registered. Amir said the room was tiny, far too small for the three of them, but at least it was not the Jungle.
“We finished the asylum process, did the finger prints, then the government told us to go back and live in the Jungle,” Amir said.
Rosie was also hospitalised for 40 days, suffering Whooping Cough and had only recently recovered. Amir said without the help of the English volunteers in the camp, Rosie would have surely died.
We asked Maryam what they needed and she replied, “warm clothes for Rosie”.
With the eviction looming Amir said was unsure what they would do.
“As refugees where are we supposed to go?” he asked.
Images/video available to licence from; www.reportdigital.co.uk
We arrived at the Serbian border with Tovarnik, Croatia the night before last. Darkness was swiftly approaching. Refugees were hastily getting of coaches to beat the darkness falling on the cornfields between Serbia and Croatia. The mood was high despite the rain, excited, nervous, adrenalin pumping. We ran with a group pushing a woman in a wheelchair over the 2-3 km journey. This is a path well travelled by refugees, the path littered with disagreed items of clothing and water bottles.
The next day we saw hundreds take this route, approximately 2-3 hundred every hour. Refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. Exhaustedly returning a smile, intrigued that we spoke English and desperate for information about the onward journey, whether borders were open, or not.
Seemingly overwhelmed the Croatian border became blocked late afternoon. For thousands of refugees hope turned to despair as they began to realise that they would be stuck in no-mans land. The border crossing between Serbia and Croatia for the night.
Images available to licence from: www.reportdigital.co.uk
Aleppo to Calais: A Syrian Doctor’s Journey
The blue lights of CRS police trucks flashed in the distance, at every access point into the Eurotunnel Terminal in Calais and at strategic positions along the miles of security fencing. Another night of cat and mouse between the migrants and police was coming to an end. The migrants try to breach the fences, stowing away on trucks and trains, the CRS in full riot gear push them back with batons and CS gas.
It was just past one in the morning as people, exhausted and dejected, began the two-hour walk back to the Jungle refugee camp. A Syrian refugee walked over and began talking to me. He was a doctor from Aleppo.
“You can do one of two things,” he said. “Shoot me or put me in your trunk”.
Doctors are being specifically targeted in the Syrian conflict and executed for treating the sick. Four months ago, after a bomb attack, he left his family and his home in Aleppo with £5000 in his pockets. He was robbed by gangs in Serbia and had since lost everything to traffickers.
He showed me a photograph on his phone of his children. I asked their names, very quickly changing the inquiry to their ages. I knew that he could not or would not want to give their names because of the fear of targeting. The fear is very real. Last year one health worker was killed every day in Syria, according to a report for Physicians for Human Rights. Hospitals get bombed almost daily according to Doctors Without Borders. This violation of medical neutrality is a war crime and breaches the Geneva Conventions or laws of war.
The doctor was wearing a cloth to cover his face. The more I gained his trust the more the cloth slipped to reveal his sad and steely eyes, which creased only occasionally when a joke was shared. This was his fourth night attempting to get to the UK.
He said Syrians were peaceful people, illustrated by the quarter of the entire population who were currently displaced. He talked of Gulliver’s Travels and the journey that he has made from the oldest civilisation on Earth. He said he did not deserve this, his people did not deserve to be turned away, even from Arab countries. He had sought asylum in Canada, America and the UK. His asylum claim was rejected, despite Britain’s shortage of doctors.
Last year the UK government accepted only 500 refugees from the Syrian conflict, 1.5 percent of the number accepted by Germany.
“What would you do in our position?” he asked.
“I don’t know,” I said. “Probably exactly the same as you guys, try and seek safety for myself and my family in another country, by whatever means”.
“And you think you would cope?” he said stingingly.
The doctor told me there are some 200 Syrians in the Jungle refugee camp, the total population being somewhere between 3000 to 5000 people. Over the years the refugee camps have been pushed out beyond the city limits of Calais, each previous camp demolished with bulldozers and burned to the ground. This means the journey to try and jump the Eurostar trains is a four-hour round trip.
Politicians do not rank highly in the migrants esteem, nor do journalists. The doctor asked if the French Government could provide transport back to the camp. He was exhausted, exhausted with their treatment in France.
“France treat us like dogs” says the graffiti adorning one wall of the bridge flyover carrying the fortified road to the ferry port, that is the entrance to the camp.
The Jungle is a squalid, semi-permanent shanty town sprawling over the sand dunes that are constantly whipped by the Channel winds. It is rife with TB and scabies. Food is provided once a day and there is not enough food to go round. Most days some people go hungry.
“For a shower you have to have a ticket,” said the doctor. “You have to queue and run or they will be gone. We are a proud people. We have come from homes. Why are they making us live like this?”
The doctor talked about the Second World War, when Syria gave refuge from the Nazis to Greek and other European migrants.
“They were not put in camps,” he said shaking his head. “They were invited into our homes. We will never forget”.
The conversation had begun with one of the Syrians telling me to get lost and that the media were part of the problem. The group were all professional people, doctors, an interpreter, a decorator and a computer engineer. We talked about politicians and racist immigration policies. I have never felt so completely powerless, answering the same questions from utterly desperate people who were unable to comprehend why Britain would not help them.
Our conversation ended with a final plea from the doctor. “Can you help me?”
“I’m not going to shoot you,” I said.
He laughed for the first time.
Migrant protest demands that the UK open the border at the Eurostar Calais Terminal. That refugees are not animals and should not have to like in squalid conditions in the Calais camp known as “The Jungle”. France.
© Jess Hurd/reportdigital.co.uk
Images available from www.reportdigital.co.uk
Protesters break down the fences surrounding Yarl’s Wood Immigration Detention Centre. Demanding Yarl’s Wood and all detention centres are closed down. Bedfordshire.
Calais migrants living in bitter conditions queue for the last food provided by Salam. French authorities have instructed the charity to stop distributing food on the street with threats the police will enforce the order. The refugees, fleeing poverty and war in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Eritrea and Sudan are living rough in the “jungle” because they were pushed out of the town centre by the police. A new “Sangatte” centre has been opened but it is viewed with suspicion by the refugees and is in a remote area, far from the centre of Calais.
© Jess Hurd/reportdigital.co.uk
Images available to licence from www.reportdigital.co.uk
Campaigner Skye Chirape has been a long-standing visual activist for LGBTI and women’s rights. She describes what inspires her and the remarkable tactics she employs.
© Jess Hurd/reportdigital.co.uk
Iranian hunger striker Kiarash Bayari, with his lips sewn together in protest against his refused asylum application. He has been tortured and faces the death penalty in Iran. Mayday protest, International Workers Day. Clerkenwell Green, London.
© Jess Hurd/reportdigital.co.uk