When we think of a refugee camp, most of us see desert city, its dusty landscape scattered with plastic tents with the UNHCR logo strewn across of them.
We see Dadaab, Zataari, and Urfa.
But what we often forget is that refugee camps, and the refugees that reside in those camps, are not strictly in nations like Kenya, Jordan and Turkey. Instead, they can be found around the world, and take very different forms, though residents share a similar plight.
This is Calais. Located on the French coast of the English Channel, Calais was home to around 4,000 refugees residing in the refugee camp that was established there, before it was demolished in late 2016 by the French government. There, refugees would attempt to cross the channel, seeking asylum in England.
In this TED Talk by Anders Fjellberg, he shares the story of two of these refugees who attempted that perilous journey. But his talk is more than recounting their journey from Syria to Calais. Instead, he says:
It is a story about the fact that everybody has a name, everybody has a story, everybody is someone. But it is also a story about what it’s like to be a refugee in Europe (and in our world) today.
His words have replayed in my head countless times in recent days. As a global community, we must treat one another with dignity and respect, with humility and kindness. We have the ability to come together to provide support to those who have no hope for their futures, who feel isolated, alone and unwelcomed. In order to do this, though, we must first be willing to see each individual as ‘a someone’ with a story.