Samantha Emily Evans previews
On February 25th and 28th in the Mansfield building, Fine Food and Dining, in collaboration with Refugee Action St Andrews, VegSoc, Literary Society, and the School of Modern Languages, will be hosting a Syrian Food Night. It will be a night of food, poetry, music, and discussion. All of the proceeds will be donated to L’Auberge des Migrants, an NGO based in Calais that organizes meals and distribution of supplies to migrants. They are in desperate in need of help, as France is at this moment deciding whether it is legal to dismantle part of the camp, evicting 3,000 people who consider Calais their home. Sign the petition now!
Since 2009, there have been migrants in Calais attempting to cross into the UK from all over the world – Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Egypt, Sudan, Palestine, Chad, Eritrea, Iraq, Albania, Senegal, Kurdistan, Libya, Ethiopia, and Syria. They are often children, teenagers, and women traveling alone. They come to Calais because, due to UK immigration law, one can only claim asylum from inside the country; thus they must risk their lives to cross the border in order to be granted a visa. Many people have died and even more injured trying to cross. They come to Calais because they have family in the UK, they have no home to go back to, they want what any human wants – security and opportunity.
With both a ferry port and Eurotunnel, Calais is the biggest and busiest port operating between the UK and Northwest Europe. The Le Touquet Treaty, signed in 2003 between the French and British governments, made it so that travellers between the two countries must pass immigration in the country of departure rather than arrival, ensuring that the majority of people would be caught on French rather than British soil. The British government for years has been pouring millions and millions of euros into preventing the migrants from leaving; in September 2014 they spent £12 million dollars building a 12-mile wall. They also pressured the Red Cross to close their location in 2002, in an effort to make life so difficult for people that they leave Calais and give up on their hopes of coming to the UK. With the wars, dictatorial oppression, and religious extremism in Syria and other countries in the Middle East and Africa, they are arriving at Calais in huge numbers.
Thus, to break down the degree of separation between the migrants and us in St Andrews, Tom Mcelholm, who worked as a supervisor for L’Auberge des Migrants over winter break, will be speaking about his experience. Shehryar Sheikh will be speaking about his experience growing up next to Afghan refugee camps in his hometown Islamabad. Literary Society will be reading poems by Syrian poets Nizar Qabbani and Ali Ahmad Said Esber. It is sure to be a lovely night of discussion with the intention of bringing together a community of people who care and want to engage with what is happening in the outside world.
They will be cooking up a feast of dishes – homous, fattoush, baba ganoush, cherry meatballs, and more! £5 minimum donation. To reserve a spot for February 25th at 6:30pm in Mansfield, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Samantha Emily Evans