Dr Nick in the Calais 'Jungle' - Day 3: Disaster strikes
Another day spent in my small caravan with my interpreter Mustapha from Afghanistan, seeing Eritreans, Afghans, Sudanese and Kurds with a variety of mainly minor complaints, coughs, colds, sprains, but including injuries sustained in the attempt to get to UK whether from falling from trucks or running from the gendarmes and being hit by rubber bullets.
There is an expectation that they will be given bandages for injuries, perhaps as an outward expression of the problem, and pills indicating the 'seriousness' of the problem.
It is hard to understand why, when these people have been through so much conflict and oppression in their countries of origin and in the journeys they have been through to get to Calais, they present at this caravan-surgery with such relatively trivial complaints.
Then one begins to accept that it is precisely because of their earlier trauma, that having the opportunity to sit for 15 minutes with a doctor and discuss their journeys and these minor problems is a privilege that has been denied them for so long.
It is 4.30 in the afternoon when Zoe my nurse companion in the neighbouring caravan comes in. I am examining a Sudanese man with a wound across his chest where he tells me he was beaten five minutes before by an Afghan with a metal rod.
She tells me we must leave the camp immediately. I pack up, give the man a dressing and climb into the car parked on the rough road outside the caravan, but not before I am overcome with a strange smell, streaming eyes and a coughing fit - my first experience of tear gas.
It has been blown on the wind from a battle that has broken out between Sudanese and Afghans in a nearby area of the camp.
We leave in a hurry and drive to the Care4Calais warehouse some three miles away. News percolates through social media that the fighting within the camp has spread, that fires have broken out within the camp and that there is a fear that our three medical caravans have gone up in smoke.
As I write this, four hours later, we still do not know.
What we subsequently witness when we return to the outskirts of the camp to see whether we can transport any injured to the local hospital in Calais is a vast plume of black smoke rising from the camp and streams of people leaving the camp, once again homeless as their tents have been burnt to the ground. One man with gunshot wounds is taken to the Calais hospital.
I guess it is inevitable that tensions will rise and bubble over between the different ethnic groups when they are living under such ghastly conditions, coming from situations of conflict and with a complete uncertainty of what the future holds.
What will the morrow bring?