Frosty Reception

It’s cold, but you know that. It’s winter. It’s windy. It’s wet. It’s fairly miserable. But again, you know that, it’s winter. It’s cold so donate to us so that we can keep people dry but not necessarily warm or even dry really ‘cause the police take their tents and sleeping bags and everyone queues in the rain for food and kids still get excited at the sight of snow despite the fact that they have to sleep in it and it’s windy and it’s wet and it’s cold and it’s winter.

People burn anything they can to keep warm: bags, tyres, old broken trainers. Everyone huddles round the toxic fumes or packs inside our van for a few hours of warmth. Red raw eyes and cold hands greet us every day. My friend. Oror. Hey bro. Salam aleikum. Akkun negar. Ça va? Choni bashi. Manana. I don’t know how people keep smiling. Or why.

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The eternal police-and-refugee cat-and-mouse game. Shootings between smugglers, 2 minutes from where we distribute. Everything’s fine. Calais has an impressive display of Christmas lights and decorations. It’s as if they commissioned every single artist who applied. Lights of every colour and shape and size imaginable cover the decaying port town. Quite the budget. Gaudy and goading. Everything’s fiiiiine.

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Yes. They beat me, they held me like this. Four police officers. Trying to get my hand open so I could give my fingerprints. I wouldn’t let them. They told me that they would detain me for 6 months. That broke me. Look. I cut my wrists, I never did that before. I cut my fingers to try get rid of my fingerprints. My face, they beat me. I thought about my whole life, my mother. I am going to Germany, to Stuttgart, to visit her for the winter, and I thought I wasn’t going to be able to. I had messed up. I just kept picturing her face, and my life. How did I get here. Six days they kept me in, by myself, you know? One small room, 23 hours a day, and then for one hour I could go out and smoke and walk around. Then back in, all the time thinking I was facing 6 months. I hit my head against the wall. I couldn’t sleep. And then suddenly, they let me go. No warning. I was dazed. They asked me why I was saying nothing when they let me go but I was just so happy. I will see my mum.

Why not stay in Germany, with your mum? It will be better for you than coming back here, no?

No, Germany is full of racists. And nobody speaks English. But it will be a good holiday. She will cook for me and look after me. Come with me?

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Libya’s in the news. Slavery, people auctions, torture, rape, systematic beatings, starvation, shootings, death. Happening right now. Macron announced recently that it was Africa’s problem, not France’s, but like the good Samaritan he is he plans to do something about it. In the form of sanctions. On an already fractured government who outsources their work to militias, many of whom are involved in smuggling or slavery. But anyway, what do I know.

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I left Oromiya, maybe, 7 months ago. I was in Libya. Libya…is no good. The soldiers, they kept me in their house. I was lucky, I got out. It’s very, very bad.

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I’ve been in Europe for just one month. Before that, Libya. I don’t know how to describe Libya. There is no humanity.

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Suddenly I’m at a Christmas house party of a friend of a friend in Vauxhall, London and there’s people dressed as Santa Claus and the smell of mulled wine permeates the kitchen and you can see the cocaine in everyone’s eyes and a girl asks me what I do and asks if it’s as bad as the media portrays it and I say it’s so much worse because the only thing she’s seen recently is that dire BBC documentary but I don’t even get to tell her about the police brutality because she’s already telling me what she knows about the Jungle which is sweet fuck all before she carries on an earlier conversation with the boy next to me after saying “the world needs more people like you” with zero intention of ever being one of those people.

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Interesting reads:

A Libyan slave trade escapee recounts his testimony.

“Mosul Eye”, an anonymous historian blogging about the atrocities of IS in Mosul, comes clean about his identity from the safety of Europe.

An Afghan friend now living in Boulogne-sur-Mer, France shares his journey from Iran.

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To watch:

Human Flow. Standout scenes include burning oil fields in Mosul, Pakistan deporting Afghan nationals and police brutality at the Turkish border. A well-rounded and beautifully filmed doc which captures everything and nothing. See the official trailer here.

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Shopping:

You know me, I loooove capitalism. Even studied a Masters in Marketing to nail in just how much I love it. Choose LOVE this Capitalistmas at the Help Refugees pop-up store in SoHo, London, or online at www.choose.love.

Also, all I want for Christmas, if anything, is youuu, RCK hoodie.

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Food:

RCK 2018 calendar, celebrating 2 years of RCK with some of their finest recipes, honed and perfected over time. Caution with the chilli oil.

 

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