This week I set myself the challenge of eating the rations of a Syrian refugee in a Jordanian refugee camp. The rations are:
Rice – 1920g
Plain flour – 400g
Lentils – 170g
Dried chickpeas – 85g
Tofu – 120g (swapped from sardines)
Kidney beans – 400g
Vegetable oil – 330ml
Five days in and it has definitely been a challenge! While I’m obviously missing fruit, vegetables and seasonings, the hardest thing has been having to always be thinking, making sure I’m not eating too much so I don’t run out later. I bought a week’s worth of rations but refugees receive a month’s worth. It must be incredibly difficult to restrict yourself or your kids when you’re hungry and the food is there.
The other challenge is the preparation – the chickpeas had to be soaked for 24 hours and then boiled for ages, and I’ve had no easy snack I can just grab when I’m peckish – either I have to cook up some rice or remain hungry!
Just doing this for a week is obviously nothing compared to living on these rations indefinitely – whilst I’m already thinking about what I’m going to eat on Monday, refugees will still be eating the same food. The diet is also missing lots of important nutrients - it's fair to say that 7 meals of rice and kidney beans and 7 of rice and lentils is not a very balanced diet!
Why am I doing this?
As well as raising awareness, I’m also fundraising for Safe Passage. Safe Passage works to help unaccompanied child refugees in Greece and France reach safety, through legal aid and advocacy. They’ve recently been campaigning for the government to vote through family reunion measures.
Their work is particularly important at the moment, with the worsening conditions in Greece. Since President Erdogan announced Turkey would open its borders with Greece, the violence has escalated and human rights are being ignored. The Greek government has suspended the right to seek asylum, conducted deportations without processing asylum claims and used tear gas against families. Refugees, journalists and volunteers have all experienced violent attacks. NGOs have had to evacuate, meaning refugees have lost access to food, shelter and medical care. A child has drowned when the Greek coastguard failed to respond to a capsized boat.
While this response is obviously a violation of basic human rights, it is also clear that Greece is not able to cope with the number of arrivals alone. However, instead of moving to resettle some of the people reaching Greece, the EU has offered €700m to help protect the Greek border.
I really believe the UK can be doing more to help. Safe Passage is calling on the UK government to resettle child refugees from the Greek islands. You can sign their petition here:
If anyone has a few pounds spare to sponsor me and support Safe Passage, I’d be very grateful: