By Bashe Said

The Forum that won many nicknames before it even began left participants with hope.  It has been called an historic conference, never done before. Even coordinators won nicknames: risk takers, visionaries, concerned citizens, dreamers and so on.  What matters the most, after all, for organizers and the attendees was accomplishing one objective: bringing these communities together to talk about their common future.

By Bashe Said

The Forum that won many nicknames before it even began left participants with hope.  It has been called an historic conference, never done before. Even coordinators won nicknames: risk takers, visionaries, concerned citizens, dreamers and so on.  What matters the most, after all, for organizers and the attendees was accomplishing one objective: bringing these communities together to talk about their common future.

The first thing you notice is the smell. Sour and rancid, it cuts at the back of your throat; a powerful combination of rotting food, urine and sweat. Next it’s the flies, lots of them, circling in a frenzy. Then, out of the gloom, a pair of eyes emerges, and another – and then the shape of a young man, sleeping deeply on one of the grubby mattresses that line the floor of this derelict place. A few minutes from the centre of Calais, this is “Africa house”, so called because of the 40 or 50 Eritrean asylum seekers who now squat here, waiting and hoping.

The first thing you notice is the smell. Sour and rancid, it cuts at the back of your throat; a powerful combination of rotting food, urine and sweat. Next it’s the flies, lots of them, circling in a frenzy. Then, out of the gloom, a pair of eyes emerges, and another – and then the shape of a young man, sleeping deeply on one of the grubby mattresses that line the floor of this derelict place. A few minutes from the centre of Calais, this is “Africa house”, so called because of the 40 or 50 Eritrean asylum seekers who now squat here, waiting and hoping.