While volunteering at the Women’s Centre of La Liniere camp, Dunkirk, RefugeeWords invited some of the camp’s residents to share their stories with us. We recorded their words in their native tongue on a dictaphone in October 2016.
When we saw the English translation we discovered that most people did not share stories of their lives, but instead took the opportunity to make pleas for help. Pleas to the British public and the UK government. Desperate pleas to be saved from the conditions of the camp, to not be forgotten, to be thought of as human. They spoke of the situations in which they found themselves that forced them to travel many miles in an attempt to make a life somewhere else.
“No one wants to leave their life”
“Everyone came because of the war. No one comes for fun”
The Dunkirk camp has now been burnt to the ground and many of the previous residents have scattered throughout Northern France. They have no support, there is no infrastructure to cope with the amount of people in need of the very basics; water, food, sanitation and legal advice.
The unaccompanied minors in Dunkirk were not included in the 350 children taken in by the UK under the Dubs amendment.
Speaking to the camp’s residents, we discovered that many had family members in the UK. Furthermore, those with the legal right to live in the UK continued living in the camp for many months due to lengthy bureaucratic proceedings.
A recent report in the Guardian details the sexual violence women and children routinely endured within the camp https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/feb/12/dunkirk-child-refugees-risk-sexual-violence . Similar stories have been shared about refugee camps around the world. The situation is worsening. There are on-going reports of basic human right violations https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2017/country-chapters/jordan .
We believe that by giving the voice of the British public to those directly affected by the refugee crisis we can encourage more people to see refugees as not dissimilar to themselves. This could happen to anyone, anywhere and at any time.
“We are humans, just like you”
“Please think of us”
We would also like to to put pressure on Teresa May and the UK government in order that they might re-think their current stance.
We can do this with your help. Please share our film on social media with the hashtag #wearehumanjustlikeyou.
Please share with people who might not otherwise think about the refugee crisis.
Send an email. Keep bugging Teresa May (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Amber Rudd (email@example.com). Let them know that the biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War is not going to simply disappear.
Post a link to our film on Twitter, or your thoughts on how the British Government are handling the refugee crisis to @theresa_may, @UKHomeOffice, @AmberRudd_MP
Special thanks to:
Everyone who supported us, you know who you are. Thank you to all the people that kindly filmed themselves speaking the words we collected. Thank you for watching and continuing to share so that more and more people come to realise that this is an issue that will not go away.
Of course the biggest thank you goes to the people of Dunkirk refugee camp. They welcomed us into their make-shift homes, treated us with warmth and kindness and bravely shared their words with us in the hope that we can bring about change. We hope that we can do justice to your words.