By Anna Hjortdal
They have escaped war and threats, are currently living in a Danish asylum centre and volunteer at Roskilde Festival. But even though the camping areas invite to anarchy and primitive conditions Dream City in Roskilde is worlds apart from the real world refugee camps.
Mogadishu, Dresden after the Second World War, war zone and refugee camp. There is no shortage of dramatic comparisons when festivalgoers have to describe the conditions they are living under at the festival’s camping areas.
But the comparison is wrong, says Ameen, who is a Somali refugee who has experience with several refugee camps.
“Some areas in Mogadishu looks like Roskilde Festival. In several places, peoples’ houses have been destroyed and they live in tents just like here. But here, people have grown up in the system, so even if they are living under primitive conditions they still behave. In actual refugee camps people come from many different cultures and even if there were a system they would not follow it.”
Ameen’s own story is that he has lived in a refugee camp in Yemen and in Turkey and have since travelled through Greece, Serbia and Italy. He is now waiting to have his application for asylum in Denmark processed.
Ameen is at the festival working for CampAid with seven other refugees from Roskilde asylum centre. CampAid is an organisation that collects tents, sleeping bags and sleeping mats left behind and then donates them to refugees. He and two other refugees are putting up a big, green pavilion on a slope by Dream City. The other two go out to collect used sleeping bags and abandoned tents in the area.
There is of course also the considerable difference between Roskilde and a real refugee camp that people are at Roskilde Festival of their own free will. Because it makes them happy, says Ameen. That is also in contradiction to refugee camps and war zones.
“When you are fleeing your homeland it is because you are searching for something better, and if you end up somewhere that looks like this…”Ameen makes a sweeping suggestion with his arms, pointing to a mountain of wobbly tents,”…then you are hit by the hopelessness of it all. In Yemen, for instance, it is impossible to get papers, work – nothing. Only a place to stay and a place to sleep!
After a couple of hours, the refugees have still not received any donations of tents or clothing. However, their orange ‘Festival Service’ vests result in many questions and Ameen knows enough about the festival to work in the festival’s information office. For example, one guy wants to know where Kygo is playing. Another got washing-up liquid in the eye. “We are CampAid, not First Aid,” says Ameen and points the unlucky dishwasher in the direction of the real First Aid tents.