Bridgnorth man tells of 'living hell' in migrant refugee camps
"For me, if one child dies that's too much – I have to do something." Those are the words of Bridgnorth man Mel Rees.
He is a volunteer who has visited refugee camps at Calais and Dunkirk twice so far this year – and is trying to raise money to help the families living in the conditions he describes as "horrendous."
Mr Rees, who works as a private chef, returned from his last visit around a fortnight ago and will be returning to both camps in the coming weeks.
The 52-year-old said: "They're not refugee camps, they're slums.
"A refugee camp is organised or at least semi-organised, the difference here is that everything is being done by volunteers. These people really need food and they really need money.
"The conditions are horrendous. In the Dunkirk camp the mud is up to the ankles in the tents and I have seen babies who have been living there for six or seven months.
"The television and the media show that it is full of young men but actually there are a lot of families there – but they don't want their pictures taken because they think it will harm their chances of becoming citizens.
"Lots of people say the camps are full of criminals, and there are criminals there but there are criminals everywhere – the same as any society, this is a mini-society.
"There was one guy I met who had been living in Cardiff for five years.
"He was from Syria, but he had gone to Calais because his mother, his sister and her children are there and he couldn't leave them there.
"It is so upsetting, nobody should live like that, it is just inhumane to leave people living like that. These people are survivors and all they are doing is trying to survive."
During his last visit, Mr Rees was accompanied by his friend Matt Black, a photographer, and now he hopes to use pictures and videos to show people what life is like in the so-called Jungle at Calais.
Along with friends, Mr Rees has also helped to set up the Bridgnorth Crisis Support Group – who will be holding fundraisers to get more aid for the refugees.
also praised Telford woman Lea Beven, who set up the Caravans for Calais campaign which has donated a huge amount to help the refugees over the past six months.
Mr Rees said what the camp really needs now is sleeping bags, food and money to buy food.
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