Phil Kerton and Ben Bano have issued the following plea for prayers and ongoing practical support for all those facing an uncertain future as a result of the order for demolition of the ‘Calais Jungle’ Please support their Christmas card initiative as well as the ‘little bags of love and hope’
This is probably one of the most difficult updates that we have had to prepare. As we write there is a prayer vigil going on in the Eritrean Church – bulldozers are close by but no one has yet given the order for demolition – although this could happen at any time. Is there a last-minute pang of conscience? We simply don’t know. Those responsible for the upkeep of the Church have been prevented from returning there and we await firm news of the final fate of the beautiful icons (one appearing on our Christmas card) which have been rescued in the hope that they can adorn an Orthodox Christian Church in France.
Our feelings after the expulsion of residents from the camp are very mixed. While we are pleased that our migrant friends are able to get away from the squalid and dangerous conditions of the ‘jungle’, many face an uncertain future in ‘Welcome and Orientation Centres’ at locations that are often in remote parts of the French countryside with populations that are often wary, if not hostile.
We believe that many will make their way back to Calais and there is already evidence of new arrivals settling in clandestine ‘mini-jungles’ nearby. Another large group of people, around 1000, are still in the camp near Dunkirk. We have been asked if we have a role in the new situation and the answer is a resounding YES. In addition to helping the migrants in Dunkirk (who require at least 800 daily meals) we will try to establish where the needs are and act accordingly. And so for those of you who have shown an interest: please continue with the ‘little bags of love and hope’ initiative.
Thanks also to those of you who have been in touch with us about Christmas cards – the front cover has a particular poignancy at the moment and 2000 of the cards are being distributed. The artist will receive a further royalty and the proceeds will go to the Refugee Community Kitchen which is still preparing a large number of meals for Dunkirk and elsewhere.
Alongside all this, the 1500-place container dormitory in its fenced compound now contains 1800 unaccompanied minors and dozens more are sheltering nearby, not far from the 400 women and children in the Jules Ferry Centre. These people, approximately 2500 in total (with scores more arriving daily), also need shoes, clothes and daily meals – and above all, human companionship. A good number are eligible to find refuge in the UK, but most have endured the extra trauma of being shoved from pillar to post by confused officials both during their official registration and the departure of adult buses.
Please continue your prayers.
Ben + Phil.