From The Jungle no.1: The Map
“The Jungle” is a refugee camp on our doorstep. In Calais, a matter of an hour and a bit away from us exists what should be the deepest source of shame for us, our government, the French, our European neighbours and the rest of the international community.
The problem is embodied in the semantics. The labelling. The choice of words.
I am not sure where the name for the camp came from. But it is where the process of dehumanisation begins.
In labelling this area the “Jungle” we are saying a number of things.
The inhabitants are not human.
They are animals.
There is no order.
And no corresponding responsibility.
The label only seeks to legitimise the deep injustice. It is ok to call a structure made with bin liners and sticks home, it is ok to have to queue hours for one meal and not be sure you’ll get one because there’s not enough to go around, it’s ok to have nothing on your feet despite the mud and the floods of water, it’s ok to have no sanitation, no properly running water, no electricity and everything else that comes with living in a ‘jungle.’
It is ok, because you are not human.
The camp might be ‘The Jungle’ to us.
But it is not for those who call it their home.
The refugees. People. Humans.
In the words of one of them, “it is not a jungle, it is a village because we work hard.”
Despite our dehumanisation of them, they continue to represent the true meaning of humanity.
In sharing this post and others that will follow, I hope to help in highlighting some of the harsh realities of the refugee crisis, challenge stereotypes, encourage dialogue but most importantly hope that people will find it within themselves to not only read, and maybe share- but to act.
I am working with friends and colleagues in pooling our skills and experience to establish how we as a collective community can best try and contribute to this ongoing crisis. If you are interested, please get in touch.