Following recent and severe clashes between police and migrants at the Calais ‘Jungle’ camp, one University of Exeter student has found a unique way to lend her support.
Final-year student Georgina Lewis is currently raising money to buy swimming goggles for refugees living in the ‘Jungle’ in an attempt to protect them from police brutality, which has increasingly involved the use of tear gas.
“A need for swimming goggles in a refugee camp might seem absurd, but the reason for it growing ever more important and necessary by the day. The police are using tear gas more frequently, in higher volumes, often without much provocation, if any at all.
“Swimming goggles will at least provide protection for eyes, so refugees can see, and aren’t left with painful eyes as a result of the tear gas,” she told Exeposé.
Having visited Calais in October last year in order to deliver physical donations and letters of support, Georgina made many friends – both support workers and homeless migrants – on the scene. Based on reports from these contacts, she described the current situation on the ground: “Sometimes hundreds of tear gas canisters are thrown into the camp – often at night – forcing people to leave their camps in the middle of the night.
“Men, women, children, and babies are affected, and the effects are very severe. One person last week went into cardiac arrest, for example. Mostly the symptoms are not this serious, but are horrible – they make eyes burn, can affect the respiratory system and make skin burn.”
With a pack of 500 goggles costing around £240, the Exeter student is now seeking fundraising help via her YouCaring page. While she recognises that they will “not solve the problem”, they should still “make a huge difference” in making refugees’ lives more comfortable.
“We cannot let this fundamental breach of human rights continue. I will be writing to Ben Bradshaw this week and also to organisations such as Amnesty about how appalling it is that this type of fundraiser is even necessary,” she added.
To donate to Georgina’s page, please click here.