For the first time in my life, I can feel just a little bit what the man in the green hoodie feels. Just a tiny, tiny bit. Because I had a warm home to return to and he doesn’t. He is stuck at the border of France in the jungle of Calais. Waiting. Stuck in illegality.
Being illegal is a weird thing. Last week, when our visa was denied at the Ethiopian border, I was mainly angry. Disappointed. I completely understand the reason behind passports and borders, yet the rules and regulations sometimes seem so arbitrary and complex.
As I open the newspaper I read about how the migrants in Calais are now transferred to other places in France. The main problem is that they don’t want to be in France, but on the other side of the English Channel. Seeking asylum in France, which then gives you right to basic provisions, isn’t what they are hoping for.
Can you blame them? When you are young and have no future whatsoever in your own home country. What would you do? Go to a country where you at least speak the language a little bit and might find work more easily or go to the place where you don’t know anything and anyone. There is a negative rhetoric around asylum seekers and refugees. That they are only seeking happiness, that they should just be grateful for what Europe has to offer.
Really? What about you, with your mindfulness magazines in the supermarket, your hipster backpack and healthy juices? Aren’t you just as well looking for happiness?
The refugees in Calais are now transferred to different centres in France. Will it stop them from coming to the border? Probably not. Will it create more poverty, inhumane living conditions and unrest with the local population. Probably.
And yet the problem starts pretty easy. Someone that determines that your paperwork isn’t valid. Isn’t good enough to enter a different country safely. If you do enter, you are now illegal. You are not allowed to exist here.