Will.i.am meets refugees during Calais camp visit
Published 13/04/2016 | 12:46
Musician and The Voice coach will.i.am has travelled to Calais to see first-hand the plight of refugees languishing at the camp known as the Jungle.
The Black Eyed Peas star and producer was mobbed as he toured the slum and shook hands and fist-bumped refugees who crowded round him to take selfies.
He watched as a lorry load of water bottles that he earlier paid for at a supermarket was opened at the site. The multi-platinum artist also toured tents and a food distribution point.
And he met Briton Clare Moseley, of Care4Calais, to talk about the charity's work at the camp and the plight faced by refugees, including lack of sanitation, fresh food and uncertainty about their future.
As he walked around the camp with a camera crew in tow, will.i.am, 41, said: "I'm here to learn more. You hear a lot on the news.
"I don't like to get all my information from the news. I like to try my best to learn as much as I can."
Will.i.am spoke to refugees who have faced perilous journeys fleeing civil unrest, wars and other tragedies in their homeland to reach Europe in search of a better life.
It was his second visit to Calais within a week. Following The Voice final won by ex-Liberty X star Kevin Simm at the weekend, will.i.am crossed the English Channel to take part in a fact-finding mission in the port city on Sunday.
Up until demolition teams moved in to partially demolish the Calais camp earlier this year, around 4,000 people who have fled poverty, persecution and war were camped there.
French state authorities moved some people from the squalid, rat-infested site's southern section to heated containers nearby or to centres around France.
But large numbers of migrants and refugees are still based elsewhere within the so-called Jungle camp, including young children.
Calais has lived with migrants for years, but the camp on the city's edge sprang up around a day centre opened last April by the state - and grew explosively.
Repeated bids to cross the Channel to Britain were made by migrants, prompting an Anglo-French operation to bolster security around the ports, including the erection of razor-topped fences.
Today the southern section of the camp looks vastly different compared to a few months ago. Makeshift shacks and tents which once completely covered the area have now been cleared, leaving swathes of barren land.
Ms Moseley said: "I can't begin to thank will.i.am for visiting us and pledging to become part of the solution to this crisis.
"Not only did he lift the spirits of everyone he met, he has also effectively demonstrated that the only solution to this global issue will come from compassion.
"It's impossible to understand the scale of the situation until you are here and meet the people in the camps who need all the support we can give. These people have lost their homes, many have also lost friends and families."