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Calais suffering made me despair of today's values

Published 11/03/2016

The media has abounded with images of people being forcibly moved from French camps and attempts continue to stop others crossing European borders.

I recently returned from Calais after a week trying to alleviate the suffering of these people. One man will remain in my memory as a reminder of the realities of individual suffering.

As he struggled to take off his T-shirt, I noticed it was bloodstained in a number of places. I could only look in shock as he revealed eight circular wounds in two vertical rows of four.

Each wound was about 2cm in diameter and had been made by a hot poker device. He had been tortured by the Taliban in Afghanistan one month before.

Dressing his wounds was easy. In touching his wounds, I felt I had touched that evil - and it has left me despairing, particularly as he, and others like him, continue to experience exclusion, derision and inhumane treatment in this European Union, founded on values so different to those that drive it today.


Trinity College Dublin

Belfast Telegraph

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