With the closure of the Calais Migrant Camp, God knows what will happen to the thousands of migrants and refugees who have called it home for years.
In part, I second the French authorities for closing it because the living conditions were just deplorable. Poor sanitation, hundreds of unaccompanied minors facing sexual abuse among other problems. Slums in many African countries and elsewhere offer much better than Calais in my opinion, and that says a lot.
However, I also feel terrible for those who now have to find new places to live as they continue to pursue their European dream. Living in a foreign country must be challenging, especially if you’re on your own in a place where virtually nobody cares about you.
Personally, I think the scariest thing is venturing into the unknown. In many cases, you’re just an unwanted African or Middle Eastern refugee and some people tell it to your face that you don’t belong and should go back wherever you came from. I was thinking to myself, would I really put myself through that?
I know everyone’s circumstances are different. Many of the migrants didn’t leave their homes just to get to Calais but the reality of the difficulties of getting to Europe forced them to. There simply was no other choice and they were trapped before their asylum claims were even heard.
For those of us either not adventurous or ambitious enough to take the risk, it’s hard to understand what compels them to make the journey. That’s probably why some even say that they deserve the mean treatment they get. Many of them are young energetic men and it’s just sad to see them waste their good years not even knowing if they won’t be deported.
The problem is that most likely, they would have sold off everything they own in the hopes of getting a better life in Europe and they don’t see any point in returning home because there’s nothing there. No job, no money, no hope. Still, I relish the “home is best” narrative.
On any given day, you will run into an old friend or relative and while they may not have much themselves, someone’s always glad to share a meal or let you stay at their house until you get back on your feet because we never really abandon our own. I think I know what stops several of them from returning home.
Pride! You’d be surprised how many people would rather die homeless and penniless in Europe than face their loved ones back home empty-handed. I think those of us who stay are also partly to blame.
The minute we learn that someone has boarded a plane or boat in this case, we raise our expectations. If a brother, son or father doesn’t start sending money within months of leaving, the gossip starts along with accusations of how selfish they are and how they’re not thinking about their family! No wonder they’re reluctant to return!