It takes courage for the Kurds – attacked on all sides for centuries – to fight the war against an enemy like ISIS. It is the same courage that is needed to uproot your family and travel from a war-torn country into another continent and across that continent to seek refuge from the very countries that are directly contributing to that war and purport to be your allies. Right now, 3000 men, women and children – mostly Kurds – are holed up at Dunkirk, not far from the very beaches where over half a century earlier British soldiers were also forced to flee from brutality and overwhelming odds. The Kurds of Dunkirk have the same spirit as the British ‘tommies’ of World War Two but have been abandoned by both the French and the UK governments, to be left to suffer in mud-filled, disease-prone camps. The only relief these heroes receive are via food convoys, organised by ordinary British (and French) people, dodging the gendarmes on way. But if this was a just world we would see a flotilla of hundreds of boats heading for those Normandy shores a second time…
The only way that supplies – food, medicine, tents, clothes, etc – are reaching the refugees of Grande-Synthe camp, just outside the town of Dunkirk, is via the efforts of a small group of British volunteers – some from as far away as Bristol. These volunteers risk arrest by the French police, for it is illegal to provide supplies to the refugees by vehicles. In the meantime it has been reported that MSF (Doctors Without Borders) hope to lease a 25,000 square metre site that can house tents for more than 2000 people. But this, of course, is hardly a permanent solution (assuming the French authorities agree to the proposal).
300 of the migrants at the Grande Synthe encampment are children – children who are suffering from a variety of ailments, brought about by the cold, the dampness, the insanitary conditions and the perils generally of day-to-day living in such conditions. It was only recently that a six month old baby at the camp sustained severe burns to her face when she fell into a fire that had been lit to cook food.
There are rats everywhere at the camp. Scabies, flu and chest infections are commonplace too.
Meanwhile the Daily Torygraph regards the refugees at the camp as a security threat to the UK (even though many of the Kurds there have been fighting alongside the British army against ISIS).
So where is the Dunkirk flotilla? And where is the spirit of Nicholas Winton?