Thursday, January 28, 2016

Perhaps the government could be part of the solution for a change

I was in Calais on Monday visiting a group of people derisively dismissed yesterday by David Cameron as a 'bunch of migrants'. Like his 'swarm' comments of last year, it shows a contemptable lack of human empathy on the part of our nation's leader, and proves him to be an embarrassment to civilised people.

The people I was with were a group of hard working community leaders, who in the teeth of almost insuperable odds and constant provocation from a French police service hell-bent on stirring conflict with the camp residents, are making a community in the sand dunes that actually works.

I spent time with a Sudanese community leader who toured the section of the camp for which he has some responsibily distributing tickets so that those who run community kitchens could go to the distribution centre to pick up a week's supply of food. The community kitchens are modelled on the one he has been running since the summer when he arrived in the camp. They are a way of ensuring people get fed, but much more than that, they are a way of creating community, of ensuring that the isolated are drawn into fellowship, that weaker and more softly spoken ones receive an equitable share of the food on offer. They make the camp a more civilised place.

Of course, as with all human activity, it is not without its problems. And my friend spends a good deal of his time an energy working to resolve disputes between people from different nations and ethnic groups. It's a burden he carries with grace and good humour most of the time. It is a huge honour and privilege to stand by his side and support the work he is doing.

He, to use this government's divisive language, is a striver; he is striving to make the best of the awful hand life has dealt him. He has fled a government that wanted him dead, leaving a wife nd children in the care of other family members; he has made a perilous journey across the sea and through Europe to the relative safety of the jungle. And having arrived, he has set about seeking to create a community that works in the interests of as many of the residents of the camp as possible.

So, instead of sneering at Jeremy Corbyn for hanging out with a bunch of migrants, perhaps the Prime Minister should follow in Corbyn's footsteps and visit the jungle, sit and eat with these people and learn what it means to a builder of community not a casual dismisser of of people's hopes.

Perhaps the government could be part of the solution to this crisis and not a bystander making things much worse for everyone involved.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

The fears that drive decision-making

Fear is not a big driver in my life. Oh, there are those inner anxieties about looking foolish, even being found out, that make me circumspect around strangers, occasionally wary of expressing my true opinion even among friends. But really, I've never known fear.

I became acutely aware of this while listening to a charming and reasonable French official. He was dressed in a suit and roll-neck sweater, with mousy hair, slightly unkempt falling onto his collar, as if he was channeling Alain Delon. He was from the Calais prefect's office, accompanied by a senior civil servant from France's equivalent of the Home Office, and he was addressing a mixed group of muddy people in the Kabul cafe in the heart of the Jungle.

He was urging his audience to seriously consider seeking asylum in France, leaving the mud and inadequate shelters of the jungle and moving to an assessment centre, with three square meals a day, showers, electricity, your own room and the chance to be given documents that confer the right to live in the fifth republic. What's not to like about this offer?

And yet the audience's eyes betray a fear that seems out of place with his offer. Then the audience's questions give voice to those fears, at first gently, expressed as a kind of quizzical skepticism about the offer. This quickly gives way to very specific fears of racism, of being refused and sent back to the country from which they fled, of being denied what they most seek.

It quickly became apparent that this was a classic dialogue of the deaf. The urbane Frenchman was making a genuine offer of help. It was heard as a threat to take the last vestiges of dignity from his audience. Why are they so fearful? It's not hard to answer that, but it is hard to grasp how fundamentally those fears drive their daily lives.

His audience consisted of men (of the camp residents present, 100% were males of fighting age). Many had been in the jungle for six months or more. Others were more recent arrivals. All had been driven from their homes and families by fear, the fear of death from indiscriminate bombing and street-to-street fighting, the fear of a knock on the door in the dead of night that would result in torture, imprisonment, being paraded before a kangaroo court. On the journey from Syria and Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran, Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia or Egypt, fear had kept them awake at night - would they make it across the next border, would they be beaten up in the road, robbed of what little they can carry, would they fall ill, be separated from family and friends, would they drown in the flimsy boats that carry them and their hopes across the angry Mediterranean, would they be denied help because of their nationality, religion, colour, clothes, language, tone of voice, haunted wariness?

For months fear has kept them alive, driven them on in their quest for somewhere warm and safe, somewhere where they are not afraid to sleep, take their eyes off their possessions, relax their guard. And they have found that place in the jungle. For all its chill wind and glutinous mud, for all its primitive sanitation, bad shelter, food and clothes shortages and occasional friction with a neighbour, it feels safer than anywhere they've been in the past seemingly endless months of travelling, and before that of being blasted and hunted, shot at, starved and denied any human rights in what used to be home. Now, in short, the jungle feels like home.

So however urbane the Frenchman, however emollient his tone, however reasonable his offer, it is met with waves of fear. Underlying all the other fears the residents have faced is the fear that nothing can be trusted any more. The states that they have fled are broken in every way; none of the institutions that ought to have protected them have come to their aid; the markets that gave them the chance of making a living to support them and their families lie shattered, the state that pledged protection for its citizens has fractured. So the man from the prefect's office represents something that none of his audience believe amounts to anything other than the fear of being oppressed. Hence his offer falls on deaf ears.

The more so as his government works to complete a new village, Campement de la Lande, which will eventually be home to 1500 residents of the jungle. It’s cost the French state 25 million Euro and people will start moving in in a few days. Apparently preference is being given to those whose tents were removed to make way for the building of the new village. The homes, made of converted shipping containers, have heating, electricity, access to running water and clean toilets, and are certainly a step-up from anything currently available in the jungle.

But at what cost? Even people from ACTED, the NGO working in the rest of the camp to put in sanitation and better toilets, think the lack of services for the refugees within the village is a mistake. Currently the jungle residents are helped by an army of volunteers from all over Europe who provide everything from hot meals, to food for residents to cook themselves, to clothes and shoes, to entertainment and the opportunity to be creative, learn languages, continue their education. None of that will move to the Campement de la Lande. Rather it will be a fenced community accessed by residents only by means of hand-print scanners.

There’s precious little trust in evidence and eventually trust needs to be built and fear overcome; perhaps that’s what a ragbag of volunteers and peace-makers can achieve in the coming weeks. For now, the residents trust themselves and their instinct for survival. Hence the nightly cat-and-mouse with the baffled police that line the camp perimeter and dot the motorways as they try to make a run to the perceived safety of the UK. And every-so-often, someone does make it and everyone else’s hopes are kept alive.

The police appear to have a new tactic in this game. As we stood in St Michael's a man asked us for shoes. He sat in his socks on a bench. 'Why have you no shoes?' We asked him. Because the police took them last night, he told us. It appears that he had tried and failed to scale a fence and the police who caught him, took his shoes so he wouldn't try it again. Cruel but effective. Is this a widespread police tactic? I’ve no idea but perhaps it explains why everyone in the camp constantly wants shoes! Perhaps the police could be persuaded to drop every pair they confiscate back at the camp, maybe at the listening caravan, so they can at least be recycled if not reunited with their original owner.

The Urbane French official told his audience that if they wanted to claim in the UK, they might get help to do that in an assessment centre. David Cameron would not want to hear that but then he should have a presence in this camp talking directly to the many residents who have a good claim to asylum within our borders. People like the 19-year-old Afghan we met at Jungle Books. Here a month, shattered, terrified, despairing, he has a brother in Birmingham who, for all he knows might be his only living relative. How hard it was to leave him in the camp, his pleading eyes seeking some kind of solution to his plight.

I comforted myself that I was leaving him with another Afghan, also wanting asylum in the UK. He’s a pharmacist who had worked for both the British and Americans in ISAF, service that resulted in his family being killed by the Taliban. He'll look after him, I thought, while we take up his case with lawyers in the UK. Moments before, he had put my mobile number into his phone with the name 'UK Dad'. When I told him I had a name, he replied that he didn't have a father apart from me. Moments like this tear you in half.

Moments like talking with a Sudanese community leader about the load he is carrying, knowing that in five minutes I'll be climbing into my car and heading off for the warmth and security of my home, where my greatest fear is that we have enough milk for a hot drink before bed-time, leaving my brother to make community and keep the peace in this ever-more permanent, ever more volatile township.

Of course, our governments are also driven by fear: fear of public opinion turning against them if they are overly-generous to refugees, fear of losing control of their borders, fear of looking like a soft touch in a tough world. More and more I believe that love drives out fear, that as we reach out in friendship and peace to the stranger in our midst, we find ourselves relaxing into unexpectedly warm and deep, mutually beneficial relationships. It’s what Jesus told me to expect and, not surprisingly, I’ve found it to be true on every visit so far to the jungle.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Waiting for the Christmas that will bring them hope

On Wednesday I'm returning to Calais to visit friends in the camp known as the jungle. It'll be Ethiopian Orthodox Christmas, so one of my travelling companions will be bringing food and other gifts for the community as they celebrate the coming of their saviour.

I was last there the Monday before our Christmas. We arrived to be told that an MP was visiting and that we should go and join those waiting for him in the library. We joined a group hanging out in and around Jungle Books. It was a mixed bunch of English and French volunteers and camp residents. And we waited. Finally, we told our friend that we were heading off to catch up with some other friends and we'd return when the prestigious visitor showed up (he should text us).

For many in the camp, waiting is a full-time activity (I've talked about this before). People wait for food and clothes, for the possibility of better shelter, for a politician who might just have the key to unlock their status (of course, he never does!).  As our Ethiopian Orthodox brothers and sisters end their advent with Christmas, just as we have recently ended ours, for residents in the jungle advent feels like an eternity, almost Narnian in its longevity - always winter and never Christmas.

In the library I met an Afghan pharmacist who's using his wait to tend the wounds of those who tried to scale the fences and fallen foul of the French police. He has a daily line of visitors with various lacerations, bumps and bruises. When he isn't sticking plasters on deep wounds, he is ensuring that the library runs smoothly, that people have all they need to continue their education - learning English, learning to read, writing letters, etc.

He worked in an Afghan hospital run first by the US army and then by the British. Because of this his family was targeted by the Taliban; half of them were killed. When ISAF withdrew, he fled for his life. Now he's in the jungle. More than many residents, he's here because of us; I am responsible for the limbo he is in. He served the needs of the UK state in its war in his country but we refused him asylum. So now the only home he has is the makeshift one he's made for himself in the jungle.

As we headed for little Syria, we met an Egyptian man with whom we fell into a conversation. He showed his hands, cut by the razor wire our government has spent £7.5m installing along the motorway and around the tunnel and ferry port entrances. I commiserated with him, wished the fences weren't there. He showed me a sim card for a Three mobile that he'd acquired. We talked about how to set up his account. We parted expressing the hope that one day we'll have this conversation in England. It all felt considerably surreal.

There were some positive things happening as we walked around the camp. ACTED diggers were installing drainage pipes in Afghan Square (yes, parts of the camp are being given names by the residents). And the French government are putting in a container village - consisting of properly converted shipping containers, complete with windows and radiators, with mains drainage and front doors - for 2,200 residents. It's a very good development but it raises the question of what happens to the other 2,500 to 3,000 residents of the existing camp when it opens and how will the government decide who gets offered a place in this village.

But even with all these developments, the overwhelming sense of life in the camp is of waiting. Despite all the building and enterprise (cafes and restaurants, shops and bike hire outfits), people in the camp are waiting for their lives to start. People who ran businesses, worked in hospitals, had families and neighbours, hopes and dreams, want to be those people again. Above all else, they want to be those people back home where they lived and loved before war and oppressive governments drove them away. But for the time being, they will settle be offered temporary asylum in the UK where they already know the language, have some family or friendship connections and are prepared to work hard making themselves and us all that little bit richer.

So, how about it mr Cameron, will you rise to the challenge of offering these people hope or will you stay small, pandering the little englander faction in your broken party? It's a tough call but lots of your fellow brits are willing to make the right choice.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Queueing for everything but a shot at a decent life


The queue seemed to have been virtually stationery for an hour. Apparently it was inching towards the tiny door in the wooden shack with the label 'distribution point' above it right next to the listening caravan. People kept yelling 'Simon' but they didn't want me; they wanted a twenty-something, raven haired lad with a mischievous smile who was somewhere in or around the hut. Today was shoes. People wanting trousers, who'd waited an hour before they found out, began to drift away disappointed, grumbling. They come to our small group asking if we have shoes. But we only had what we were wearing.

Queueing is part of camp life. People shift from one queue to another through the day: a queue for a clothing handout, a queue for a hot meal, a queue for water for washing or cooking, a queue to use the toilets. There's not a lot else for folk to do during day light hours except queue. But it's no life for anyone.

Our group was a mixed bag of refugees, volunteers and visitors. I was having an animated conversation with a brother from the Taize community who I had just met and who was asking me about the listening project. A trio from a London church had just pitched up wondering where they should leave the contents of a seven-and-a-half ton truck. Samir is talking easily to residents and visitors alike, graciously dealing with questions while making sure all the folk in his care have rice and sugar from the box I've just given him.

Earlier we had been in the Afghan cafe, a sweat box where hot sweet tea arrived in your hands before you'd found a seat. It was humming with people. Europeans, Sudanese, Syrians, Iraqis, Ethiopians, Iranians and others were crammed into what seating there was. It was a camp meeting where representatives of ACTED, the French NGO sent by the court to enact its judgement against the French government, were talking about water, sanitation and shelters. They were outlining plans and then listening to comments and suggestions from all the residents' representatives.

The meeting happened in English and Arabic and was generally good-natured. I had a sense of being at the birth of a town council, where representatives of the residents would express their views, make their demands, and would receive a courteous and sympathetic hearing from the agencies and volunteers present. Everyone seems to want to make the jungle work - everyone except the French government and their representatives ringing the perimeter of this disused chemical site in riot gear, packing assault weapons and shades, who make life for residents harder than it need be. In the cafe voices appealed for a meeting with the police but ACTED could not deliver this; they'd ask, but... They can deliver cleaner toilets, better water, more coordinated distribution of food and clothing; and all that is welcome.

Following all this as best I could, I was reminded that historians tell us that revolutions are sparked not by the very hungry and dirt poor but by those who have begun to taste a little prosperity but who are thwarted from tasting more. The jungle is in that precarious position. Maybe this accounts for the rising tensions within and beyond it. As residents are getting their basic needs met, other needs surface: the need for dignity, being listened to, self-determination, the ability to have some mastery over their ultimate fate. That is still denied them as the French and UK governments stick doggedly to their denial of the camp's existence or the possibly legitimate claims of many hundreds of its residents for asylum In either country. Moves are afoot to test some claims. Hopefully that will lead the floodgates opening. Frankly we could absorb the entire population of the camp in the UK without anyone batting an eyelid.

I had come that day, with Linda, to see how the listening project was shaping up, meet a few interested people and pass on a bit more food to Samir. We made new friends, met up with old ones, shared amazing hospitality in Samir's kitchen as he dished up a feast of bean stew and thick salty porridge.

The camp has changed since my first visit a month ago. There are more toilets (though they still take your breath away!) and more water points; there are more and more shelters being put up, signs of some permanence as residents get set for a European winter; and at the far end of the camp, the ground is being cleared for a bunch of shipping containers, accommodation for 1200 people out of a population of 6,000+, being put onsite by the French government. There is a feeling - especially among those present at the meeting in the Afghan cafe - that the jungle is becoming an established township, similar to the kind you find across sub-Saharan Africa or clinging to the sides of cities in Latin America and South and South East Asia. You don't expect to stumble across one in a G8 country. But it's here and its taking root and shape and becoming home to thousands of people.

By next summer, if it's still here, it will be feeding Calais' informal economy with workers prepared to do a shift for pennies in order to have cash to feed the growing economy within the jungle. There's probably a really interesting development study to be done about the place. But what's more important is that the people resident there are recognised as human beings with needs and a just claim for our attention, so the jungle can be denuded of its citizens as they are granted asylum among us.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Questions ahead of reckless action

So, it looks like we're going for a vote on taking military action in Syria tomorrow which means that the government is confident of getting a majority in favour. It saddens me that yet again our country is doing the easy thing - joining with a braying multitude in taking ineffectual action - rather than the right thing.

Queueing up behind a range of airforces already pummelling Syrian cities enables us to say that we are joining the war on terror at a new level. But it doesn't really solve anything. Cutting off Isil's funds would severely dent their ability to run their fiefdom. A couple of weeks ago I was talking to friends who work near the region who were lamenting the fact that because of the downturn in the Russian economy, many of their neighbours sons were returning home only to be recruited as drivers and construction workers, general labourers nad yes, fighters by Isil. They pay better wages than the local economy can afford, money that does come home from those taking Isil's shilling.

So I have three questions about the situation that I'm I'm pretty sure I've not heard answers to.

The first is, why are we still buying oil from Syria and Northern Iraq when we know that the money on those oil sales is going into Isil's bank account? Oil embargoes are difficult but can and have been effective. The second is why are we selling weapons to countries in the Gulf region when we know that many of those weapons are being sold on to Isil by their sympathisers? And the third is why are the banks that handle Isil's millions not being stripped of their banking licences since they are in flagrant breach of international treaties governing money laundering and handling of funds from illegal activities?


All we will do as we embark on this proposed course of action is create more refugees, more helpless and hopeless people travelling out of the region into Europe in search of sanctuary. As a result of MPs voting with the government tomorrow, the jungle in Calais will swell by hundreds if not thousands of desperate people, people we are unwilling to acknowledge as a country, let alone help. These people will be part of the collateral damage of our rush to war; they'll be knocking on our door, seeking escape from the hell we will have helped to create.




Tuesday, November 24, 2015

caravans and libraries, sharing food and tears under Calais' darkening skies



I arrived for my third visit to the so-called jungle in Calais yesterday, thirty-six hours after fire has destroyed about 50 homes. Men are digging out the charred remains of tents and makeshift structures caught up in the inferno. Some have found fresh tents to live in but many are looking at another night in the open air.

The fire scorched and melted some of the outer fence of St Michael’s church; that fence is made of plastic sheeting, the main building material in the camp.

Water stands in lakes across the roads and tracks, churned to a thick, gloopy mud that makes parts of the site resemble a first world war battle field. This is partly due to rain and partly to the French fire brigade who eventually turned up to the blaze.

The camp is stretching out towards and along the motorway that takes travellers to the port. In the shade of some of the £7m fencing that our government provided to keep the refugees enclosed in this space, structures are going up made of four by two and plastic sheet, big enough for a couple but often occupied by half a dozen or so. They are packed close together which is why a spark from a fire – lit for warmth and cooking – causes such wide-spread damage. The amazing thing is that there aren’t more of them and that no one’s been badly hurt.

We were delivering caravans, one for our proposed listening project, others for people to live in – especially the more vulnerable camp dwellers (families with small children; women on their own). We were also deliveries a heap of clothes and duvets, boots and waterproofs generously donated by people from our church. For some of our party, it was a first visit. One seasoned visitor to slum communities in India was shocked and troubled at what he saw. Some went off to help guys build shelters, others to meet residents and hear their stories.

I was keen to catch up with Samir as I had a box of food for him to use in his kitchen. He received it and looked inside to see what there was. Then he distributed bags of rice, onions and oil to representatives of the families or groups that he has responsibility for, keeping just a single bag for himself. The generosity of the poorest never ceases to amaze me.

He wanted to show me the library and education centre housed three shelters along from his kitchen. The library is stocked with books – dictionaries for those learning European languages, histories, books in Arabic, novels in English – as well as a computer (although the generator is broken and someone has stolen the modem!) It is amazing that in the midst of the relentless difficulties of living in this place, people come to read, to talk about ideas, share stories and learn languages. 

Humans are amazing. These people are here because of the worst that men do but what we see as we visit is the best that people are capable of. It’s profoundly humbling. As we embraced at the end of the day, I felt I was leaving my brother in this dark and desolate place.

One of our group went to the Syrian village where a woman called Miriam has a two-week old baby. She’s received no pre- or post-natal care; the family is in an unheated caravan (which is at least water-tight), has no access to warm water and has to use portable toilets that would shame the fifth day of a music festival. This is no place for a two week baby and a nursing mother still recovering from labour.

So, we have a dream: can we find somewhere for this family; somewhere safe, dry, warm, with access to some basic healthcare and good sanitation? Ideally, we’d like to find a family who could offer hospitality to this family somewhere in France. And, yes, we know there are all sorts of mountains in the way of this – they are undocumented, they don’t speak the language, what if there is an emergency… 

But this is the time of year for impossible mountains to be scaled. A long time ago, another Miriam had a baby in less than ideal circumstances – though she probably had family around her and was able to have her son in a warm and secure place. That and baby soon had to flee because of the murderous intentions of their government, living as homeless refugees for a number of years.
Yet that boy was Emmanuel, the Word made flesh, God moving into our neighbourhood so he could be with us.

So those of you who pray, please pray for Miriam and her family; for Samir and the group he is responsible for and the work he does alongside other volunteers community-building and peace-making; for everyone caught in this shanty town on the edge of a city in a G8 country, ignored by the host, shunned by its neighbours, left in a limbo of indifference.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Facing reality over a feast in the jungle

This week I returned to the camp in Calais that's known as the Jungle. It was only a fortnight since my first visit but a lot had changed. Many more permanent structures had been built and a number were under construction as we walked through the central area of the settlement. On top of that toilets and shower rooms had been installed in various places and there seemed to be more generators powering electric lights in the shops and cafes that line the main drag through the camp.

In one sense all this development is good; in another, it suggests that the jungle will become a permanent fixture, a growing shanty town on the edge of Calais, the end of the line for so many people fleeing persecution and war.

People like a man from Sudan who showed me his village within the settlement. There are some solid structures - including a kitchen he's erected where he and his friends cook for a couple of dozen people every day - but mostly people are living in a rag-tag mix of tents, some supplemented by plastic sheeting, but all being ripped apart by the wind that cut through the camp on a mild but blowy day. The sound of flapping plastic formed a backdrop to every conversation.

We were offered iced tea and hot, very strong, very sweet black coffee and the chance to meet some of his fellow-countrymen in the his kitchen. Some are bright and smiling, optimistic that this is a transit camp. Others have built solid structures from wood and tarpaulin, knowing that this will be their home for the foreseeable future and they'd better make the best of it. People talk of their hope of finding a safe place, a peaceful and secure life.

As we walked in the early afternoon we came upon clutches of men attempting to light fires to cook on. One group had dug a pit, lined it with kindling-sized pieces of wood and were attempting to the light the cardboard they hoped would enable them to create a camp fire. But already everything is too damp to catch. I wonder what their lives will be like when winter sets in and damp turns to wet and the frozen ground is too hard to dig.

We came upon a quartet digging down into the sandy soil and filling plastic bags to be weights holding the sides of their tents to the ground. We followed them to where they were building their shelter from heavy plastic sheeting, held up by tree boughs stripped of their foliage. It didn't look promising, but it's better than nothing.

We'd had lunch with our Sudanese friend at an Afghan cafe, along with Tom, a monk and peacemaker, a volunteer increasingly concerned about the well-being of the host of inspiring mainly young people from across Europe who have come to help out. There are no organisations here, no NGOs with settled ways of doing things which can direct the energies of these folk and ensure that they are working within a framework that includes time off and away, time to recharge batteries that are quickly drained.

Tom talks of the need for places to chill, debrief, let the swirl of emotions engulfing them like smoke from the kitchen fires, dissipate in a controlled and healing way. He fears for many of them. And as if to prove his point, we run across a young British man, who's wired and nervy, needing a light for his cigarette, while his staccato speech jumps from one story to another with no narrative thread. He's been working since seven this morning and wants a lift to the warehouse (at least a half hour walk away) in order to do his evening shift. It's getting on for 5pm. He needs down time and a square meal and a chance to kick his heals on the beach or visit a bar far away from here with a bunch of mates. But that won't happen

So, we're returning with a caravan to help establish a kind of listening project for volunteers. It'll be a place where anyone can sit and chill, talk about what they're doing, how they're doing, how they're feeling. It'll be a place where people can find themselves and deal with the conflicting emotions that are the inevitable consequence of working constantly day-in, day-out for days on end. It's a work in progress, an idea that was taking shape over lunch - a spectacular feast of spicy chicken, omelettes and bread - and continues to develop as we talk about it and plan to get the first part of it in place.

Watch this space...

In the meantime, I worry for my Sudanese friends as the winter hits. Today in England the temperature was down to 4 degrees. It's due to be 8 degrees when we return on Monday, half the temperature it was when we were there three days ago. I really do not know how my friends are going to cope, how they'll keep warm and fed, and most of all how they will not despair in the chill of a northern European winter.

Oh, and the showers I mentioned, these are sheds with a tiled floor, rudimentary drainage and no running water. To wash, you go inside with a bucket of cold water taken from one of the taps being put in and do your best. It's better than it was but it doesn't even get close to meeting minimal requirements for human decency. The jungle lives up to its name even in its most developed elements.

It cries out for governments and NGOs to acknowledge its existence and make it a civilised place of safety for desperate people.