Dr. Nick in Calais
With one day to go before I return to the UK inevitably one is bound up in a huge melange of emotions, not least the reflection that I can just ‘dip in and out’ of these people’s lives at will and travel to the destination that they are all so desperate to reach, – namely the UK. I simply wave a ticket and a passport in front of border controls, while they are seemingly trapped indefinitely. The emotions are brought to a greater intensity by Ahmed (not his real name) aged 12, I repeat, aged 12, who is on his own in the camp. He sits in front of me in my tiny caravan telling me his story through Sami, my interpreter, with a deadpan expression.
He’s lacking in any emotion until I ask him if he ever cries, at which point he laughs softly – a laughter of cynicism. He speaks and sounds like an adult. But he would, wouldn’t he? Hasn’t his childhood has been stripped from him? Who can imagine how damaged he must be? Ahmed’s father entered the UK three years ago illegally, having felt that it was too dangerous for him to stay in Afghanistan. He was subsequently deported back to Afghanistan. Ahmed never saw him on his return, but believes he was killed by the Taliban. His uncle told Ahmed that it was too dangerous for him to stay in Afghanistan and his only future was in Europe and – at best – in the UK.