They are not only ‘bitterly divided’ in Calais. They will continue to be bitterly divided wherever they go, and they will create racial and religious tensions for the duration of their life while imparting it on their children to continue the culture. Why would anyone in their sanity want to bring these people in? They are the very mentality and cause of all their problems in their own countries. These countries are full of violence and problems because it consist of millions of people with this exact mentality, running an entire nation. This mentality does not disappear by bringing them in somewhere else. All it does, is spread the problems to peaceful countries.
The night a lonely boy and a frightened mother taught me why this place is called the Jungle – and why British compassion could equal cultural suicide
Listening to Tao tell me about his journey to the Jungle at Calais is hard. He has been on the road from Sudan for two years and is still on the move.
He looks like a boy to me, not much older than my own children – still not allowed to walk to school on their own, calling me from school when they have forgotten something.
Tao rings his mum once every month. To tell her he is fine, even if he isn’t. If he is sick, cold, hurt or sad, he tells her he is good. The way we all pretend to be ok. So mum won’t worry.
Later, back in her lounge, we might tell her what really went on. How we dislocated an arm or got arrested. Wanted to cry or were sick out of the window because the driver wouldn’t stop the car.
But not this young boy. Because he isn’t going home. He is only moving further away. Whatever it takes.
I ask him how he sees his life a year from now. The sort of question I ask kids in college to gauge their currency for future success; money, work or happiness.
Tao is crystal clear. He sees a door. A big door. And all he has to do is get through it, and his life can begin.
He tells me the names of people, places, professions behind the big door to his new life. Oxford, being a doctor. Helping people. Supporting his mum.
Then his dad will be proud.
Just like I hope my dad is vaguely proud of some bit of me. My daughters, perhaps? Or their table manners? Or that I clean my own guttering on my house?
Tao is not alone. He’s just one of 800 unaccompanied minors on camp. The little ones hidden from harm in the centre for women and children. Or the tougher ones hardened up in main camp. Accepting that if someone has something you want, you take it.
But Tao is neither little nor toughened. He spent two years working to earn the money to fund his passage through Libya here to the camp. Missing years of his life.
I look around at European gap-year kids working in the camp, playing at being Bob Geldof, funded by the bank of mum and dad. Self-indulgent college kids. So busy shouting about the state of the world behind their Raybans, they don’t hear the quiet boy in front of them.
I ask Tao who he tells if he is sad, needs a hug, has done something well and wants someone to be happy for him.
He says no one, crying all the while.
His tears are the same as Allam’s, a lady I met at midnight outside the camp on the way to the trucks.
Tears fall from her eyes, a massive reservoir of sadness, but she isn’t crying; she doesn’t want her baby to worry.
It’s ok she tells me. I’m fine. Just like Tao.
Allam is with her sister and young son of five, unusual in a sea of men, cleanly dressed and snug. All tucked up for a night by the road. Waiting for her chance to make it to England.
A chance to get on a truck.
We see them back in camp the next morning, at their caravan.
It is brightly painted, spotlessly tidy, and smells like home. A handwritten alphabet is stuck on the wall for her son to practise his letters. A cup of tea is thrust in our hands as we sit.
This seems so much better than the roadside and the dark. The scary night with barbed-wire fences, police with dogs, men with iron bars.
But still she cries.
She says she is afraid on the roadside at night with her baby. But there, at least, she has hope of a chance.
In camp, amongst the men, she has fear and no chance.
She lies awake at night, waiting for them to come. Men, Afghan men, knocking at her door. Telling her to get out.
They don’t want her in this bit of camp. She is a woman, with a sister and child. She shouldn’t be here. She is Eritrean. This is not her place.
I think back to earlier in the day when we were looking for her. The people we asked didn’t ask what she looked like, or what her home was like. They asked what she was. What was she?
They looked back at me like I was the mad one. How would I not know what she was?
We finally found her trying to get medicines for her baby. A baby who was not a son after all but a little girl, now in pink.
At night Allam dresses her as a boy. To make her chance greater.
The world is closing in on Allam. The police, the fence, the men, the night — all closing in.
I walk away wondering about the things I have seen. The noise of my first day — men hacking down the security fence, tear gas all around, my cameraman mugged for his wallet, phone, cash, kit.
Allam is fearful the men will take her prize: her baby girl.
I have imagined these people as a mob. But I was wrong.
They are bitterly divided. By sex and race, religion too. Tensions raw and simmering, flaring up after dark.
As individuals, many are just like any of us, trying to do the best for our children, pretending to our mums we are happy and doing fine.
But this story is far more fractious.
These people do not want to assimilate. They want divided enclaves in which to belong. Where this religion is welcome, this nationality is not.
Amidst the tear gas, violence and gang wars already at play, the only unifying factor is the desire to get to Britain. Once that shared purpose is lost, there will be nothing stopping them tearing each other apart.
Moving the camp will not solve the problem. Nor importing the problem to Britain.
England cannot possibly mend all these people. We cannot right the wrongs of their past. Bringing them here is not a solution. Take 800 today, there will be 800 more in their place the next day.
We may be obliged to be a tolerant nation but as a result British culture has lost all meaning.
Conversely, these migrants here in the jungle are still defined by their culture. Old injury and perceived injustice matter most of all. They may have left behind their countries, but not their conflicts.
Integration is not on their agenda. We will be the Enclave Kingdom.
Amongst the tear gas and anarchy, I never once feared for myself. But for my country, I am very afraid indeed.