Friday July 28, 2017
The Calais Jungle, Part 1: What do I owe my neighbour?
For nearly two years the "Calais Jungle" was a ramshackle city of tents and plywood huts, home for thousands of refugees and migrants — Lebanese, Syrian, Afghan, Pakistani — from all over the war-ravaged world of the Middle East and North Africa. Just across the beach in Calais was the English Channel, the final barrier to Britain and the start of a new life. Those refugees didn't want to be in France, and the French for the most part didn't want them. And neither did the British. The refugees were stuck: unable to move forward, and with nothing to go back to.
Soon after this programme was recorded, the Calais Jungle was finally destroyed by the authorities, and the refugees dispersed throughout France. Philip Coulter visited a now-vanished city of dreams and lost hopes to ask the question: what do we owe our neighbour? Part 2 airs Wednesday, August 31. This programme won the Gold Award in its category at the 2017 New York Festival International Radio Competition.
**This episode originally aired May 25, 2016.
"If there is no war in Syria tomorrow, I will come back to Syria...I have not ever been in England, but I do not think that England is worth staying even one week in this situation."
-- Shadi from Syria
The citizens of this desolate city call it "The Jungle" with deliberate irony. To many, this windy, dirty scrap of land feels like a zoo, and the way they are sometimes treated makes them feel like animals, too. In the Calais Jungle, they try to smuggle themselves across the channel into Britain, in the meantime living in poverty and constant harassment from the authorities and from vigilantes.
Guests in this episode:
Aura Lounasmaa, Centre for Narrative Research, University of East London
Olivia Long, volunteer with Help Refugees at the Calais camp
Hettie Colquhoun, volunteer with l'Auberge des Migrants and Help Refugees at the Calais camp
Jess Egan, volunteer with Baloo's Youth Centre, running programmes for youth at the Calais camp.
Anya, volunteer with l'Auberge des Migrants
Mohammed, refugee from Sudan, trying to get to Britain.
Shadi, refugee from Syria, now an engineer volunteering at the camp
Photographs of "The Jungle"