by Erin Weist
Beginning this week thousands of migrants are being evacuated from camps in the port city of Calais, France. The number of refugees camped in this area commonly referred to as “The Jungle” has swelled over the years, ranging anywhere from 6,000-9,000 people, the majority coming from Africa, Afghanistan and the Middle East. Many of these migrants are seeking asylum in the United Kingdom and have been clashing with local workers over illegal attempts to hide away on lorries (trucks) traveling on the underground tunnel connecting France and Britain.
Spaces for around 7,000 people have been found at various refugee centers around the country. However, many of these migrants are contending with local police, worried that relocation will ruin their chance at entering Britain. The space will still allow unaccompanied minors to remain under the care of humanitarian groups.
This situation in Calais represents a microcosm of the refugee crisis being seen throughout the world. Finding a peaceful, working solution for housing and caring for thousands of displaced refugees has taxed national and local governments around the globe. And there doesn’t seem to be end in sight. Last week Russian and Syrian forces fighting against Syrian rebels agreed to a ceasefire to allow an even greater number of evacuees to flee war-torn Aleppo, with some estimates indicating 250,000 more civilians continue to be trapped by the fighting. This is just one city, one example of refugees in desperate need of assistance, particularly regarding minors traveling alone.
The issue is far from settled and I encourage local involvement where possible. Leaders need to continue to be open to ideas that will provide viable solutions for both migrants and locals. The consequence of war touches us all. We all need to be prepared: how will you help those who are suffering? The best answer is to treat them as you would wish to be treated. It’s the only way to move forward.