Calais. France. Last Tuesday, September 28, Yasser, a young Sudanese man died at the French-British border. Despite his grief, his family chose to bury Yasser’s body in Calais. Yasser’s relatives and members of the Sudanese community in Calais have written the following letter, available in French, Arabic and English (scroll down for the French and Arabic version).
Originally published by Calais Migrant Solidarity.
Day after day we call. But no one hears us. This is the language of our hearts here in Calais. Calais is a very beautiful city, but we are living simply behind a curtain of beauty. We cannot see the lights of truth, freedom and security in Calais.
We came to this city because we have a small goal. We live in hope that tomorrow might be better. But we must ask, why will the universe not allow us to reach our future, our freedom, our security?
Every morning in Calais, there is a new hardship. We live knowing that our friends who are with us today may not be with us tomorrow. Death is in our eyes, fear and anxiety do not leave our minds.
Our lives are full of stories, but they are very sad and painful.
Today we lost the smile of our dear brother Yasser. Just yesterday, he was playing with us.
We walk the roads during the day but fear does not leave us. Then we try to eat but we only taste sadness. We drink water but we do not quench our pain. When the night arrives in Calais, its calm. Our eyes try to rest but we have no place to sleep. All of this because we have a small goal.
The police in Calais. We ask each other from time to time: why all this cruelty on your part? You know that we are not your enemies.
We live in the woods, away from your eyes, because we fear you. Yet you come early in the morning and take our simple belongings as if they were nothing to you, but you know very well that they are everything to us. Our homes. Without humanity, you leave us out in the open with the cold pinching us and the rain on our heads as if we are not human beings.
Then if we try to leave while you destroy our belongings, we are beaten and gassed by some of your members. Then tomorrow you will force us on toa government bus going to faraway places that we have not seen before, claiming that it is all for our “protection”. Why don’t you ask us permission?
Truck drivers. During our attempts to cross the border on trucks, we are subjected to repeated injuries that lead to fractures, severe wounds and even death. We believe that every injury we have received had a deliberate intent on the part of the drivers.
It’s clear when you, the driver, notices that a migrant is rides in the truck. You shake the truck and hit the brakes again and again until we lose control of the grip. You know we will fall and break a shoulder, hand, leg or spine. But that is not enough for you. When we fall to the ground, we are seriously beaten by you. You walk away and continue your journey. When we open our eyes, we are in the hospital, again. Why can’t we continue our journey?
Humanitarian organizations and medical aid in Calais. We take this opportunity to express our heartfelt thanks to those who wear the humanitarian aid vests in Calais. Thank you for the work you do over and over again. You are saving the lives of our injured brothers and sisters. We owe you so much. We also thank our brothers and sisters in humanitarian organizations who help us by providing food, water and showers.
From refugees in Calais, 2021.