Dr Nick in Calais: Day Four - The morning after the conflict - and shooting
We meet at 8.30 am with another 20 or so volunteers from USA, Germany, France and UK. We go to the warehouses to start sorting the essentials that will be required following the conflict and fires of the night before. There's anticipation that tents and sleeping bags will be required to replace those that have been lost.
We two doctors - Pete from Leeds and myself - have been joined by Richard a GP from Stroud He has just arrived from two months of working with refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos.
While waiting for the morning briefing from Karen who has spent time on social media finding the latest information from within the camp following the conflict and the fires of the night before, we set to sorting donated socks, underwear, tents, groundsheets and sleeping bags from the vast containers that have arrived from generous donors in the UK.
We put them into manageable boxes ready for distribution in the 'jungle', waiting to be told that it seems safe for us to enter the camp and assess what has happened over night.
An hour is spent going through the medical container, stocked with a huge variety of drugs and medical equipment, looking particularly for appropriate dressings and skin creams for the burns and injuries that we expect to confront.
We drive the three miles to the camp laden with equipment. French security is a little tighter at the entrance, but we park and wander down the deserted 'street' in the camp to our three medical caravans.
It is deserted - either because people have not yet returned from their nightly attempt to reach England on the trucks at the port or they are still asleep after the horrors of the night before.
We speak to one or two Sudanese and Afghans. It seems that a minor row between two from their two nations had sparked an all out conflict.
Is it surprising that conflict should break out? Given the traumas these people have left behind, whether incursions and deaths of family members by the Taliban in their villages in Afghanistan, or the political oppression meted out in Sudan, both of which have caused these people to flee their countries, then to have to contend with perilous journeys to France, only to be met with living conditions in the camp worse than those left behind and a completely uncertain future. Is it surprising? We hear of one death from gun shot wounds, several admissions to the Calais hospital with burns and injuries. Later we see for ourselves innumerable minor injuries which we do our best to 'patch up' - but at least spend some time simply listening to their stories.
Meeting up in the evenings in a café with fellow volunteers, to discuss the traumas of the day over a glass of wine or two and a small French meal, helps to alleviate the stress that we all inevitably feel when confronted by fellow human beings in such a parlous state from which we can at any moment escape.
Freedom is choice, something that our migrant fellow beings have lost.