Humans, abandoned

Article @ Morning Star, published 21 September 2015

Leaving London at barely 6am on Saturday I reached Calais around noon, frazzled from the coach and ferry journey.

I’ve visited refugee camps in Palestine, slums in Brazil, but I never expected to see such destitution on European soil, mere feet away from upstanding French homes, sanitised streets.

Visiting The Jungle was a humbling experience to say the least. I spoke to people whose lives were torn apart by imperialist wars and extreme poverty.

People who wanted to live like I do — and why shouldn’t they? What is so wrong about wanting to sleep safely in a warm and dry room? What is so appalling about wanting a decently paid job, a weekend? What is so outrageous about wanting to live your life in peace?

Every step our governments take here to stop people — these humans from Syria, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Sudan, Iraq — from reaching our shores and living like us, alongside us, is an admission of racial prejudice.

When Cameron or Merkel say “these people are not welcome” they are openly admitting that these men and women, with beating hearts and whizzing brains like you and I, are different, less worthy of a safe home and a warm bed.

They are openly saying that Ahmad Yunis and Kabir Safi, who I met yesterday, are meant to live in damp shabby tents, amid mud and rubbish, amid violence, hunger and disease.

Calling for Britain to open its borders is our way of saying that Ahmed, Kabir and every other person living in The Jungle, who crossed half of this world to get here, is simply entitled to life.

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