FANNING THE FLAMES: HOW FRENCH POLICE ALMOST INCITED A RIOTAUGUST 27, 2016
On Tuesday, the Calais police made a dangerous move to seemingly fuel violence in an already-tense moment Jungle.
On Monday night, conflict broke out on the motorway near Marck, between predominantly Afghan and Sudanese groups attempting to make the crossing to the UK. The police were called in and arrived with water cannons to disperse the crowd. In the course of the evening, 15 Sudanese were hospitalised and one was killed. The exact circumstances surrounding the death remain unclear.
On Tuesday, a group of at least 20 police – some CRS, some Police Judiciare – entered the Jungle at approximately 6pm. They marched to the intersection on the main road where the Sudanese and Afghan neighbourhoods meet; held formation with weapons ready; and appeared to post a single photo on the wall of a building.
The photo was apparently a close-up image of the man who had been killed the night before and showed him dead.
The police then stood in formation and watched, with one filming those passing by. They then marched through the Jungle, before concealing themselves in the La Vie Active container park, surrounded by fences and private security. Before leaving, one of the Policia Judiciare, saw his unmarked car being filmed by an activist, then physically grabbed and threatened the activist, whilst a colleague threateningly told them to ‘Take care.’
Once the police were gone, tensions in the camp began to rise. Conversations spread throughout the Jungle like wildfire. The usual groups of twos and threes on the main road were replaced by bigger groups – five, ten, fifteen, mostly divided by nationality.
The outrage in the Sudanese quarter was palpable. One of their brothers had been killed the night before, and the police had piled insult and disrespect onto the tragedy, by photographing the deceased and then posting the photo in the middle of their public space, like a threat of more to come or a game trophy.
Africans of different nationalities began to group together and Afghans with cricket bats, pipes and planks of wood began to fill the streets, milling about, as tensions rose.
Remarkably, the afternoon ended in relative calm, though the possibility of violence has far from gone. Several reports have said that community leaders managed to defuse tensions before they erupted into serious violence.
Given that the ongoing tensions between different communities in the Jungle are constantly exacerbated by the state, via evictions and the resulting overcrowding, the police intervention surrounding this death is deeply irresponsible at best, and outright criminal at worst.
Whatever the circumstances surrounding this man’s death, to post a photo of a dead body in a public place, at the geographic juncture between the two primary communities involved, is an insult to the deceased and to the community. It is also an incitement to violence.
Like spreading rumours to stoke existing tensions, the police’s move appears to have been aimed at inciting violence in the Jungle, as happened in February. Once they had posted the photo they left - having effectively chucked a match into the petrol and then walked away.
The lack of violence following the death of the Sudanese man and the subsequent inflammatory behaviour by the police, is a testament to a collective maturity winning out in the Jungle under massively unfavourable circumstances.
Even before the police arrived, violence between communities had been a very-real possibility; after their intervention, it felt almost inevitable. Yet the moment passed.
Of course, the police will deny any ill-intent, and argue that they were simply investigating the death of the night before and searching for witnesses or new information. But such tactics must not be allowed to pass unnoticed. The police and the prefecture know that clearing the Jungle poses many problems, from the anger of the people living there to the political fall-out of the heavy-handed action that a major eviction would inevitably require.
If the boiling anger of 9,000 people living in often-subhuman conditions can be used as a tool to either destroy parts of the Jungle itself (through riots and arson, etc), or as a pretext for escalating police violence, then the police seem prepared to do their best to exploit and encourage this anger. Which is what they did on Tuesday.
PEOPLE HELPING PEOPLE: EMERGENCY AID BAG APPEAL
27th August 2016
PEOPLE HELPING PEOPLE: A BEHIND THE SCENES LOOK AT HOW A CENSUS IS CONDUCTED
August 25th 2016
"TROLL AID" TOPS £2000
"MY PHONE IS LIKE MY LITTLE BROTHER TO ME"
23rd August 2016
FESTIVAL SALVAGE TEAM COLLECT VITAL RESOURCES FOR CALAIS
22nd August 2016
A HUGE well done to the festival salvage team who have been busy travelling the country and picking up unwanted and donated tents, blankets, sleeping bags and camping goods from an eclectic range of outdoor events.
This is serious hard work and they've given up their summer holidays to do this. And it's not over yet... The salvaged goods need to be checked and cleaned to make sure they are in tip top condition. They also need to get to Calais before the winter sets in.
They are going to need:
*Volunteers to help them sort and clean
*Funds to help them transport from collection points in the UK to Calais
To find out more or to offer your support, please visit:https://www.facebook.com/groups/FestivalSalvageForRefugees/
HELP NEEDED TO REBUILD L'ECOLE D'ART
22nd August 2016
On 15th August the "École d’Art", a French language and art school in the Calais refugee camp, tragically burned down as a result of a fallen candle. €3000 is needed to rebuild this vibrant community space.
The Ecole D'Arts taught French lessons and ran art classes for the 7,000 plus refugees living in Calais. French lessons are especially vital for the refugees as many are seeking asylum in France and the art classes provide a therapeutic distraction to the often mind-numbing daily routines of those living in the refugee camp.
The Ecole D'Artes was also home to 14 people who were it's guardians protecting it from vandalism in the night. They lost everything, including their documents and few belongings. This building was a safe space, complete with a vegetable garden, piano and library. Now, all that remains are burnt palettes and charred school books.
COLLABORATION, CO-OPERATION, AND COMPASSION
22nd August 2016
Ever wondered what it would be like to be a volunteer with Help Refugees/L'auberge in Calais? Ever wondered how Help Refugees first came to Calais and joined with their sister organisation L'Auberge Des Migrants?
'The Umbrella' is the first in a series of short documentaries made by Tom Laurence from the HR team that will follow the work of volunteers on the ground in the Calais Jungle. This chapter focuses on the union of 2 humanitarian aid organisations - L'Auberge des Migrants (FR) and Help Refugees (UK) and the huge warehouse/ distribution network/ build team they set up up together.
Please watch below and email email@example.com to volunteer.
And now personal trainers, fitness instructors, and martial arts practitioners are needed to dedicate some of their time in this new space.
Please spread the word and email firstname.lastname@example.org to volunteer or for more information.
The Prefecture's request to demolish the shops and restaurants was rejected on ALL COUNTS by the Tribunal Administratif in Lille.
-places of commerce have existed since April 2015
-lack of authorisation and sanitation worries are the same for all "lieux de vie" ie shelters, school and places of worship, there is no differentiation
-the places of business serve other important functions: places to meet, to charge phones, to accommodate new arrivals
-destroying them would aggravate tensions and endanger the wellbeing of residents and degrade their living conditions
The judge took on board arguments regarding long waiting lines for government run services and rising tensions due to them
The request to demolish was rejected on all counts.
The 195 testimonies collected (60% from residents, 40% from volunteers and associations) helped an enormous amount!
DECISION DUE ON FRIDAY
key points from report on today's Court hearing.
10th August 2016
The Prefect's representative argued that the shops and restaurants of the "jungle" were causing "serious disturbances of public order" not only because "they are places for illegal sales", but because migrants are "exploited" eat "rotten meat" there and buy "tools on credit, including cutter blades, to attack trucks on the ring road." The Chief of Staff also argued that the managers of these businesses "exploit small hands", "assault volunteers from associations" and "take water and electrical power from connections" provided by the State for the migrants in the camp.
Conversely, the lawyer Norbert Clément said the that sales premises were primarily places of socialisation "When new people arrive at the camp, it is because of this this informal organization that they can be welcomed, and find out where to find clothes, how to contact members of their community." According to the lawyer, migrants can rest, take a shower, get a free free meal, watch TV or even recharge their mobiles. He felt that the objective of the prefecture was to remove "anything that creates links" and "not perpetuate a system that is destined to disappear."
He also argued that the services put in place by the state were now at saturation point, and therefore had no capacity to deal with all migrants in the camp: the 1,500 places in the interim care centre (CAP) are occupied, respite centres located elsewhere in France are "saturated". As for the distribution of meals at the Jules Ferry centre, this generates such long queues, he said, that tensions arise between refugees. The representative of the Prefecture replied that on the contrary, the state could offer "5000 complimentary meals each day, and we can go further if necessary." He added that a centre for unaccompanied minors would emerge "very soon" in Calais.
Three activists also spoke to defend the interests of these "social places", including the Kid's restaurant, created exclusively for minors and also doomed to destruction (A petition is circulating elsewhere on the Web to ask that this living place for minors is retained. It has already collected several thousand signatures. ).
Following these discussions, the presiding judge said that he would give his decision on Friday.
UPDATE ON EVICTIONS OF CALAIS SHOPS AND RESTAURANTS
7th August 2016
Refugee Info Bus
The prefecture (French local authority) has called for the eviction of people working and living in the 72 shops and restaurants of the Calais "Jungle" refugee camp.
Shop and restaurant owners are now building a legal defence to this. There will be a court case in Lille on Wednesday, the 10th of August. If they lose they have been told that they should destroy their shops themselves, or the prefecture will call the police.
While the food supplies have been confiscated from restaurant owners over the past 2 weeks, they have continued to act as community spaces for people to hang out, charge phones, chat and drink tea. They have also been used as shelters, as the camp is still getting many new arrivals, day by day.
Residents and volunteers, with the help of the Refugee Info Bus are gathering testimony to give to the judge, stating why the restaurants are important as community spaces, or as housing.
How you can help:
- Have you volunteered in Calais?
- Do you have photographs of restaurants being used for community gatherings, for English classes, or for other important events?
- Please send them to email@example.com together with your permission to use them.
You can also submit legal testimony. This has to be handwritten in French and signed on the legal document (see image below)
Please download, print, fill in (in French) and sign, along with a signed copy of your passport or ID
EVICTION NOTICE SERVED ON THE SHOPS AND RESTAURANTS OF THE CALAIS JUNGLE
On Wednesday 4th August, restaurants were handed a notice of eviction, to be carried out next week. Establishments of the Calais Jungle that feed the residents, as well as provide community spaces face closure and demolition following the raids carried out by the Departmental directorate for the protection of civilian populations, DDPP and a 150-strong police presence in the past two weeks.
One of the restaurants to be targeted is the Jungle Books Kids Restaurant, a refugee and non-refugee volunteer run space, that provides two hot meals per day to the estimated 300+ unaccompanied minors in the camp.
Entirely run on donations, the Kids Restaurant not only provides two hot meals a day to any child in the camp, but is a safe space for children of the Jungle to spend their days and nights. The restaurant acts as a home, where children can eat, watch TV, play pool, play games, and hang out in the evenings, and allows it's volunteers to keep an eye on them using a registering system: a much needed service following the shocking news that 129 minors went missing from the Calais Jungle during the South eviction.
The Kids Restaurant has been unable to feed the children of the Calais Jungle for the past two weeks, and now faces closure and demolition.
A petition has been launched here
Food is still really short in camp and more and more people are arriving. Lots of the restaurants haven't reopened after the police action last week, so even refugees with money are struggling to get enough to eat. The medical caravans have seen some people eating tissues to stave off hunger pangs.
So what can we do?
Calais Kitchen's ingredient parcels are needed now more than ever. They are low on supplies and funds to buy supplies; and need volunteers.
Refugee community kitchen are based offsite and so will be able to continue whatever happens with police actions/demolitions. They need more food, and more volunteers.
The onsite kitchens are Belgium, Kitchen in Calais and little Ashram. All need financial donations, little Ashram is looking for long term volunteers too.
It is substantially more difficult to get people enough food in these conditions. Please donate, share, fundraise- no one should go hungry.
- Bit.ly/calaisfood for the dry food parcels
- https://www.youcaring.com/refugee-community-kitchen-474904 for the offsite hot food kitchen
- chuffed.org/projects/belgiumkitchenincalais for Belgium kitchen.
- https://www.gofundme.com/kitchenincalais for Sofinee's kitchen in Calais
For RCK- off site hot food-; catering sizes and volumes of food.
· Fresh herbs
· Fresh chilli
· Fresh veg (not potatoes)
· Ground spices
· Nuts and dried fruit
· Tinned tomatoes
· Olive oil
For Calais Kitchens- dry food donations-; ordinary shopping sizes but in huge volumes
· Tinned tomatoes
· Tinned beans (not baked beans!)
· Tea bags
· Instant coffee
· Olive oil
· Salt, pepper, ground spices
· Long life whole milk
· Tinned fish
· Nuts dried fruit, energy bars
All tins ring pull and everything in date
Belgium kitchen need food, but also cleaning products, plastic spoons, aluminium serving dishes
DEFENDER OF RIGHTS STATEMENT
21st July 2016
Déclaration du Défenseur des droits sur une possible évacuation de la zone Nord du bidonville de Calais
The office of the Defender of Rights released a statement today on the potential eviction of the camp and how it could affect the population of the Jungle and the most vulnerable in their midst.
CALAIS VULNERABILITIES TEAM
Help Refugees/L'Auberge des Migrants have recently formed a Vulnerabilities team to serve those living in the Jungle. This is a team that is long overdue in the making, as already existing services are extremely overstretched trying to meet the needs of the most vulnerable in camp.
The team will be supporting the elderly, people with mental and physical health issues, pregnant women, unaccompanied minors and anyone else who is in need of a bit of extra care. We will largely be liaising with existing services to meet people’s needs but also providing pastoral care and delivering personal items that people cannot get at regular distributions (i.e. breast pump). We are currently raising money for items such as this and other items including phones and sim cards (valuable lifelines for vulnerable people). Our funding will also be heavily directed to sourcing and renovating caravans. This is because a lot of the people that are in a vulnerable state can be helped by being given a secure, warm place to live. Caravans are very effective as they can’t be dismantled and stolen for shops or firewood, as shelters often are. They are also easy to relocate if areas become unsafe. We currently have a long list of vulnerable people in need of a safe place to live, and very few caravans donated to us. Any kind donation, small or large, will go to housing a vulnerable person or buying items to make their life a little more bearable.
LATEST CENSUS REPORT FROM L'AUBERGE DES MIGRANTS / HELP REFUGEES
21st July 2016
47 new arrivals each day
761 children, youngest one only 3 weeks (youngest found on census 4 months old)
608 unaccompanied minors, youngest one only 8 years old
The warehouses are now desperate for...
** Red kidney beans
** Olive oil
**All other food (on the current needs list only!):
----Fresh fruit and veg (including salad and fresh herbs)
----1l UHT milk
----Onions and garlic
----1l oil / olive oil
----Tinned fish (tuna, sardines, mackerel)
----Ring-pull tinned goods (kidney beans, tomatoes, chickpeas, fruit, veg)
----Tea and coffee
----Dried fruit and nuts
----Vegetable stock cubes
Or simply order FOOD through
or GOODS via
These people came looking for safety and a new life -- and found Calais.
THE REFUGEE INFO BUS IS RECRUITING
2nd June 2016
Do you have experience in refugee rights campaigning or legal research?
Alternatively, do you have a history of working in technology for development?
It is often difficult for professionals with skills to share in Calais to be able to commit to work on a long term project in Calais. Yet, the Refugee Info Bus would benefit from the knowledge and experience of people from a variety of professional backgrounds.
Minimum commitment of 1 week and maximum commitment of 2 weeks is required.
We don’t offer financial support for this program. Therefore, we are limiting volunteer recruitment to short term placements. However, we can offer basic accommodation and food.
A driving licence is a real advantage.
Duties will involve helping us with running workshops, researching and general tasks vital to the maintenance and functioning of the Refugee Info Bus.
Please email us a CV and a short cover letter with your dates of availability to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Due to the sensitive nature of some of the work that we undergo, all volunteer recruitment will be carried out in this format.
In just 24 hours, people across the UK and Europe worked wonders in response to an appeal for emergency aid to Calais after fires destroyed hundreds of homes.
1,027 individual items were bought via Leisurefayre - meaning vital kit such as sleeping bags and roll mats, will be delivered directly to the l'Auberge/HelpRefugees warehouse within just four days.
The Facebook feeds from so many groups, including: the Worldwide tribe; London2Calais; St Alban's for Refugees; Help 4 Refugee Children; Newport to Calais; We are Wakefield; Hand in Hand; and Calaid and from hundreds of individuals revealed the scale of the response. Many cars and vans of essential aid arrived in Calais today and many others will be arriving over the weekend thanks to the determined efforts of people working collectively via social media.
Last night, Acted coordinated the emergency response and Care4Calais and L'Auberge/Help Refugees worked closely together to hand out emergency supplies. Most of the displaced Afghans slept in the mosque whilst the Eritreans and Sudanese slept in tents put up in the Jules Ferry Centre.
Today, Acted managed a coordination meeting at 7.00am and priorities re distribution, sharing stock, and handing out emergency aid were agreed. This was then carried out through a series of community distribution points round the camp, with the teams taking orders from every community on numbers and needs to make sure no one was left out.
MdM, MSF, Acted. Care4Calais, L'Auberge/HelpRefugees, Acted and Secours Catholique worked together - sharing supplies and managing the community based distribution. Between them they erected over 300 tents, and distributed over 400 emergency packs of clothing and food. MdM delivered 500 sleeping bags, MSF are arranging 100 tents. 2 Acted bulldozers and 1 L'auberge digger cleared the debris .
Here is what happened last night:
There were 3 big fire sites and a few small ones.
The Sudanese community were the worst affected; their main community tent was effectively destroyed.
47 people were taken to hospital: 41 refugees (the majority of whom are Sudanese) and 6 La Vie Activ volunteers. Injuries were mostly cuts and stab wounds. There were a few head injuries but mercifully no burns.
This afternoon, a fight started between Sudanese and Afghan camp residents at the Jules Ferry centre food distribution point. It quickly escalated into a bigger fight inside the jungle and some structures were set on fire. The fires spread and some about 20 shops and restaurants are reported to have been destroyed including the Ashram kitchen. The Belgium kitchen is thought to have been damaged, too.
Approximately 20 refugees were wounded in the fights.
Contrary to popular belief, the Calais Jungle has not disappeared.When the south zone was demolished, most refugees moved into the north zone, resulting in a very crowded campsite - with shelters, tents, caravans and the first two storey building packed closely together - a recipe for disaster.
The number of refugees has not diminished either but rather increased - in spite of some people making the crossing to the UK, others asking for asylum in France and others trying their luck elsewhere. And, some 40 new people arrive every day.
Ramadam is imminent and so donations of clothing and food including dates, and milk, plus halal meat will be hugely welcomed
Please contact email@example.com to notify them if you intend to deliver items to the warehouse.
Following a fire and a fight in the camp tonight, approximately 20 people including 3 volunteers are in hospital.
There are conflicting reports about damage- the extent and what- but all say it is pretty severe.
Acted are coordinating the response and both l'auberge/HelpRefugees and Care4Calais are currently getting as many tents, blankets, sleeping bags etc to the camp as they can.
Sofinee is back in her kitchen (which was at risk of burning down earlier) and cooking and is preparing to support those who need it with food and comfort.
If you are in Calais please stay away from the area until it's safe and contact one of the associations about how best to help.
If you are not in Calais please put all your energy into getting tents, blankets, sleeping bags, roll mats and clothes out to the camp.
It sounds like a lot of people lost everything-again- today.
All these boys came to Calais without their families. People talk sarcastically about the unaccompanied minors all being strapping 6-foot 17 year-old guys but there is no doubting these kids’ youth. Many are around my nearly 11 year-old daughter’s size. One of the younger boys keeps getting under the table and pretending to be a dog. Another boy is leaving tomorrow to start the process of settling in France. It’s good news, but also an anxious time as he will be leaving his friends behind. It’s a very daunting decision for a child to make. I imagine my daughter living here, having made some friends, knowing a few friendly adults – how likely is it that she would choose to leave here and go to an unknown place with strangers who speak a language she doesn’t understand. The Baloo volunteers are discussing how to make the transition easier and maintain links between the boys who go and those who stay.
On Tuesday I try an English-through-music lesson at the Darfur school: ‘Hello, Goodbye’ from my phone and speaker. Only one of my 12 students has ever heard of the Beatles though –the only one over 30. I ask them to tell me their favourite singer in English and it’s unanimous: Bob Marley.
On Friday I pull up to the camp entrance as usual, but this time the police ask for my driver’s licence. In that moment I realise that I have in fact forgotten to bring it – it’s in the UK. I wave my arms around in what I hope is a fuzzy, middle-aged woman sort of way (so not much of a stretch) and say: ‘Oh I’m not sure, I think it’s in the back of the car somewhere’. Then I hand him my passport and at first he seems happy with that. But he goes though it carefully, frowning at one of my visas in particular. He talks on the phone, holding my passport open for a very long time. Do I look like a dangerous woman? At last I’m cleared and park by the police van. Don’t think I’ll forget my licence again.
When I get to the Darfur School, Steve is already teaching in the schoolhouse so after tea in the new ‘clubhouse’ I take the teachers pack to a table outside for a class. We have a lesson were I am the doctor and they have to come to me with their problems. I use the small whiteboard and pens from the pack to list the problems and look at the vocabulary. We talk about broken bones and stomach-aches. Although I eat and drink in camp every day and have never had a bad stomach I know that in fact this is a very common problem. So I teach them some important vocabulary like ‘diarrhoea ‘ – a word even I can’t spell so A looks it up on his phone for me. We sit in the sun and we drill the pronunciation: di-a-ree-a. In reality, S badly needs to see a dentist and G needs glasses.
I see I’ve lingered and missed my ferry. Oh well. I chat with N, a Sudanese lady nearing 60. She comes to the Darfur school for French lessons, and since her English is excellent, she teaches beginner’s English. Now a French family have offered her a room and board while she applies for asylum in France – which she will accept as her chances of jumping a lorry are somewhat slim. At the moment, she stays in the small, secluded women and children’s centre but she complains: ‘It’s very boring. The women sit around talking nonsense.’ She has made the difficult journey here to force her reluctant daughter to follow. ‘Always, we mothers are thinking of those closest to us.’ I miss another ferry.
G, who I call ‘ibni - my son’ (from my last trip), is helping me with my Arabic. I tell him he missed my Bob Marley lesson yesterday and he asks me to sing it for him. He laughs and gives that 10,000 watt smile – he almost knows the words: ‘Don’t worry, about a thing, ‘cause every little thing, gonna be alright……….’
There are many new arrivals to the camp everyday and at the moment many have nowhere to sleep and nothing to sleep on. Please consider donating one or more mats via Leisurefayre. They cost just £8 and are delivered direct to the camp (free-postage). Polar fleece/thick wool army blankets are also desperately needed. Every little really helps.
Help Refugees and L’Auberge des Migrants conducted a recent census on the Calais “Jungle” and found that there are currently 5,188 people living in the refugee camp, with numbers constantly rising.
We found that 568 are children, 74% of whom are unaccompanied. The average age of children in the camp is 13.9 years old. The 420 unaccompanied children in the camp are now eligible for resettlement in the UK under Dubs Amendment and we hope to see 300 children brought to Britain in time for the new school term in September.
Other notable findings:
From our sample of 3,537 surveyed we found over 55 different professions including doctors, nurses, lawyers and architects.
There are over 20 different nationalities in the refugee community, making in unique amongst refugee camps – 32% are from Afghanistan, 24% from Sudan and 6% from Syria.
68% of residents live in the unofficial makeshift “Jungle”, 28% live in the government run containers, and 4% live in the Jules Ferry Centre (where only a maximum of 200 women and children under the age of 14 are allowed to reside).
HELP! SUPPLIES ARE DRYING UP
4th May 2016
Now the weather has improved, refugees are arriving in Calais at a rate of 30-40 a day. These are people who have managed to avoid internment in Greece, or who have made the longer and much more dangerous crossings from Egypt and Libya.
As ever, the only support they are offered when they reach northern France, is from associations and volunteers- and stocks are at an all time low.
Currently there are distribution points in camp where refugees can come and get what they need at regular times and a welcome centre (again, set up, staffed and managed by volunteers) where newcomers can be looked after. These distribution points are vital to upholding dignity in camp- there aren't decent washing facilities, the CRS still destroy or confiscate property on a whim- so if new clothes aren't available, people go cold or have to live and sleep in dirty clothes for weeks at a time.
Supplies are so low right now that distributions may have to be cancelled, or distribution points closed.
The people in both camps urgently need small and medium clothes and shoes up to size 39
Please, can local groups set up collections- there are some items to buy on the Leisurefayre site - but local groups collecting priority items will make all the difference.
GOVERNMENT CONCEDES DEFEAT OVER DUBS REBELLION
4th May 2016
We're delighted that David Cameron does not plan to oppose the revised Dubs amendment when it arrives back in Commons on Monday. This is all down to YOU - without the tremendous pressure exerted on Conservative MPs by the ordinary public, this would never have happened! Thousands of you tweeted, emailed and wrote to MPs in support of bringing unaccompanied children to the UK. The Government would also never have announced last month's 3,000 children to be taken from OUTSIDE Europe without the huge and overwhelming public support!
HOWEVER, despite the good news, the fact that the concession only applies to those "registered" before the 20th March means that the fate of children unregistered or in illegal camps across Europe is unclear. Registered by whom is undefined - registered by government authorities, UNHCR, or other NGO's? Or do they simply mean "arrived in Europe prior to the EU-Turkey deal?" Many children are not registered anywhere or even know that they have to be. We must be careful that this is not a loophole the government choose to exploit.
Secondly, as the amendment does not specify a fixed figure of children accepted, we have to be vigilant. There's a huge difference between theory and practice, and what might be today's good PR could have its heels dragged upon tomorrow. Our team in Greece and Idomeni have reported previously on the grievous lack of government support in keeping children safe until now.
The bill will still (fas far as we know) be voted upon as a formality on Monday, so at all times we need to be asking your MPs and councillors:
- What does "registered" mean in this context? Upon entering the EU, or the country they are in? With agencies or governments?
- Is this in addition to the "fast-track" humanitarian visas spoken of for those children with family in the UK?
- How many children?
- Exactly how will the initiative to bring registered children from camps across Europe be carried out?
- Which organisations will you be using to conduct identification of minors?
- What assistance will be provided to this end, given that existing measures in camps in Europe are so stretched?
- How will councils evaluate how many minors they can accommodate?
- What is the timeline to this initiative?
We're sure you can think of more!
WELL DONE to all of you who added your voices to this huge human rights struggle!
HELP UPHOLD THE LEGAL RIGHTS OF REFUGEES IN FRANCE: GET LAWYER, MARIANNE, BACK ON THE ROAD!
The Legal Centre in the Calais Jungle founded by Marianne Humbersot has had an enormous impact on the lives of the Refugees living there.
The work at the Legal Centre is nothing short of extraordinary - from being the ONLY source of information on the French legal system and asylum process, to contributing to the arrest of 10 members of fascist groups attacking Refugees, to helping to fight the recent eviction in the European Court of Human Rights!
Led by Marianne Humbersot, the team of French lawyers, including Raymond Blet at the Legal Centre, have been working tirelessly to document cases of severe police violence against refugees and bringing justice to those without a voice. Recently they have helped the legal reunification of an unaccompanied minor with his family in the UK, in the ongoing family reunion efforts led by Citizens UK.
They have been continuously collaborating with other NGOs operating in Calais such as Medicins Sans Frontieres, Medicins du Monde, L'Auberge des Migrants, Citizens UK and Help Refugees and liaising with the French authorities.
Marianne and her team are planning to expand to La Liniere refugee camp in Grand Synthe, to ensure the human rights violations there are documented and combated.
The biggest obstacle Marianne and the Legal Centre are facing is the fact that her car is in need of EUR2500 worth of essential repairs, which she cannot cover. Until these costs can be covered, French legal and asylum advice cannot be offered in Grand Synthe by the Legal Centre.
After being completely self-funded and working tirelessly for months to document and protect against human rights violation in the Jungle, it is vital that Marianne's work continues. By helping to repair her car, life-changing legal progress can be achieved in upholding the human rights of refugees in Northern France. It's that simple.
Often the most humanitarian act can emerge from the most practical of needs. In this case the money raised will be used to ensure Marianne and the team can carry on their amazing and selfless work in Calais and Dunkerque, fighting state violence, human rights infringements and injustice.
For updates see this FACEBOOK PAGE
For video evidence gathered SEE HERE
TO DONATE VISIT THIS FUNDRAISING PAGE
(The Centre Juridique de L'Appel de 800 is now in the process of registering as the Legal Shelter/ Cabane Juridique)
Today, the Care4Calais sports day expanded to include cricket, high jump, kite flying and art breakouts as well as the normal football and volleyball. Who would have thought the big kids would enjoy blowing bubbles quite as much as they did. Anyone who can send games, volunteeer to help or sponsor an art day please email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Help Refugees/L'Auberge teams in Calais/Dunkirk are desperate for more men's hoodies and fleeces, sizeS small and medium. Can you help? You can donate via helprefugees.leisurefayre.com where you'll automatically receive a 20% discount and goods are delivered direct to the Calais warehouse. Or to take donations to the Calais warehouse yourself please contact: email@example.com
Fire is a constant threat in The Jungle and there have been a number of serious fires in the last few months. This week another fire broke out and as a result an Ethiopian man is fighting for his life. It is reported that he has suffered 70% burns. "Jungle Canopy" would like to distribute hundreds of brightly coloured fire buckets to be filled with sand and kept outside as many homes as possible. Each bucket costs just £1.
You can help prevent such fires becoming major events by donating to their bucket fund here.
LITTLE ASHRAM IS RISING FROM THE ASHES
April 27th 2016
SEWING MACHINES WANTED
25th April 2016
Groups who send containers of aid overseas are collecting sewing machines to reduce waste when unsuitable clothing arrives overseas; things can be repurposed into reusable sanitary wear and more appropriate clothing.
You can deliver or post any machines to Cloth Bank UK, Shropshire Loves, A6, Stafford Park 15, Telford, TF33BB and we will allocate to projects that help reduce prostitution and promote well-being.
Or your local warehouse may take used ones on our behalf (check first).
DUBS AMENDMENT DEFEATED BY 18 VOTES
25th April 2016
FUNDS NEEDED FOR MOBILE FIRST AID UNIT
24th April 2016
Help Refugees and L'Auberge des Migrants need 12 census takers to carry on this vital statistical work every month!
For the first time in the history of the Calais Jungle, we have been able to have accurate statistics on its population and its movement. The Census has found that 3455 people were affected by the last eviction, that 129 unaccompanied children can no longer be accounted for after the demolition, that the youngest child in camp is just 1 month old!
This work has been mentioned in The Guardian, The Independent, The Houses of Parliament and used also by the Refugee Rights Data Project. It is essential for the continuing struggle to identify and help vulnerable individuals, and protecting the rights of unaccompanied children especially.
To continue the study of the population, WE NEED YOU!
- previous experience volunteering in Calais and knowledge of the camp are absolutely vital!
- being available Thursday April 28th - Sunday May 1st
- knowledge of Excel/ Google Sheets + laptop
- languages: Arabic, Farsi, Pashto, Tigrinya, Amharic, Turkish, Urdu, Dari
- previous experience in information/ evidence gathering
Training on the project will be provided!
To apply, email firstname.lastname@example.org with a cover letter including the above information, your full name, date of birth and contact number!
GOOD NEWS ... AND BAD NEWS
20th April 2016
Calais Action is delighted at today's announcement from the Home Office that Britain will take in 3,000 child refugees. HOWEVER, we have it confirmed from our sources in Parliament that the policy WILL NOT INCLUDE those child refugees already IN EUROPE. Reports suggest that children will be selected from North Africa and the Middle East - and this means that those in the camps of Calais, Dunkirk, Idomeni, Italy and Greece will remain untouched by this announcement. The children that we meet and see regularly already in the camps of Europe, dirty, cold and at risk from traffickers will NOT benefit.
Worse still, this means that the Government MAY sidestep what promises to be a significant rebellion by his own party over the Dubs Amendment, which has always maintained that 3,000 child refugees should be taken from WITHIN Europe. Save The Children's original call to save 3,000 children was also for those child refugees IN EUROPE to be protected. We must NOT let this happen!!
Calais Action are extremely concerned that this could mean that either the Dubs Amendment will be voted down, or that the Government will be able to claim that there is no scope available to take a "further" 3,000 child refugees from within Europe. They will claim they have fulfilled their humanitarian responsibilities, and that therefore Dubs is no longer needed. It is no accident that this comes on the eve of the Dubs vote on Monday. They could have taken these children from the Middle East and Africa at any time over the past years, - and they still should. But what about those IN Europe?
So in summary: the fight is STILL ON to get Dubs through the Commons! Please could ALL of you write in maintaining that 3,000 children should STILL be protected from Europe!!!
It is a wonderful thing that children fleeing war will be given safety in the UK. And it is a triumph of humanitarianism for those saved - and tribute to the overwhelming strength of public feeling that the Government have acted.
However, we do fear that today's announcement leaves the children of Calais, Dunkirk, Idomeni and Greece who have risked everything to be here - still out in the cold, and with the safe and legal route of the Dubs Amendment potentially closed to them. Don't let this happen! Please write to your MP asking them to SUPPORT THE DUBS AMENDMENT!!
Children in Northern France, Macedonia, Italy and Greece will unfortunately not be helped by today's announcement. The fight is still on to get Dubs through Commons.
19th April 2016
It's hard enough for refugees living in Calais to get a shower, let alone access to laundry facilities. We plan to provide a service to wash underwear, t-shirts and trousers in the upcoming hot months.
Having frequently volunteered with different organisations throughout the camp and made strong bonds with residents since the start of 2016, we have noticed the increasing desperate need for a launderette in the Jungle and the success of the laundry service in the new Dunkirk camp.
Wild Washerwomen will not only be somewhere to revive dirty clothing but also a friendly place of relaxation and conversation. We have Cambridge Certificates in English Language Teaching to Adults and will provide informal classes to anyone who is interested to prepare them for their possible asylum in the UK (as well as French conversation classes for those who plan to stay in France) whilst waiting for their laundry, and weather permitting we will have deckchairs set out around the (cara)van and a constant supply of chai tea and biscuits!
We're about to start fundraising and plan to head to the Jungle in August to test the operation of our pilot (cara)van and planned procedures to run the charity and distribute laundry access fairly.
If you could give the page a like and tell your friends we would appreciate it SO much! It's a really important issue to address and we hope to do it justice.
19th April 2016
If you want to help teaching in the camp in Calais or have any other skills or ideas send us a message or e-mail Fergal directly (email@example.com) for more information about what we do in the classroom!
THE MOUNTAIN IS NOW A MOLEHILL ... BUT KEY ITEMS ARE STILL NEEDED
18th April 2016
After an epic weekend of sorting through the mountain at the warehouse (thank you volunteers; it was an absolutely brilliant one!) we have discovered that a large proportion of what we have is items currently not needed in Calais or Dunkerque and so we will be sending a lot of this excess to Idomeni and the Syrian border over the coming weeks.
Now we have a handle on stock levels, in order to keep stocking the 5 distribution points as well as the women's centres across both the Calais and Dunkerque camps as well as our mobile distribution team (who visit every single shelter to find out what is most needed) we are desperate for the following items.
NB if you have ideas about companies / organisations / UK collection points who could help with quantities please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lights (wind-up and solar) https://www.leisurefayre.com/…/duronic_hurricane_4_in_1_dyn…
Campbeds and foam toppers
Single foam mattresses
Tin & plastic Mugs and cups
Bags for life
Nappies (only numbers 4,5&6)
Baby (especially number 2&3)
Trainers especially sizes 41 to 43, and ideally black
Small and Medium Jumpers, Long-sleeve tops and hoodies
Small and Medium Joggers
Small and Medium New underwear (not y-fronts)
XS, S and M Leggings
XS, S, M Tracksuit Bottoms
S and M knickers
Tracksuit bottoms - for ages 12-17
Jeans - for ages 12-17
Underwear - for ages 12-17 or men’s size small
If you can deliver donations to Calais please email email@example.com for info and to book your delivery slot.
Please share this to help us to continue to provide consistent support to the people living in the Calais and Dunkerque camps.
HELP SAVE 3000 CHILDREN
16th April 2016
Tess Berry Hart
Here's what you can do...
On the 25th April the "Dubs Amendment" to the Immigration Bill will go back to the Commons for a vote. Lord Dubs was one of the thousands of Jewish children brought from the Kindertransport in 1939 from Germany, and he created an amendment to the Immigration Bill to bring 3,000 unaccompanied children FROM EUROPE to England. This amendment was passed in the Lords by a majority of over 100 peers, but now it's going back to the Commons to be voted on by MP's. Winning the vote will involve persuading Conservative MPs to vote with their consciences, rather than their party, or at the very least, to sit on their hands and allow the Dubs amendment to pass.
Despite Tory arguments of "pull factor", these children are ALREADY in Europe, they're already in danger, living in dirty camps or disappearing into the hands of traffickers. 50% of those polled by Save The Children have an STD. (Yes). Europol reports that 10,000 unaccompanied children are suddenly unaccounted for since their arrival in Europe. This is an important moment in history, where we have the power to save 3,000 children's lives. Let's make sure we are standing on the right side of it.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
If you live in a Conservative constituency, pleaseemail your MP encouraging them NOT to vote against the Dubs amendment. You can tell them that Europe is NOT a "safe country" - children are at risk of exploitation and trafficking, as evidenced by the high numbers of STD's documented by Save The Children and the disappearances from unofficial camps such as Calais.
You can tell Conservative MPs that the existing systems to try to claim asylum are broken: the Dublin III amendment by which children with relatives in Britain can be reunited is impossible to access without specialist legal help. Of the 150 children with potential actionable cases in the Calais camp, less than 10 have been able to exercise their rights, and then only after months of waiting in a dirty camp and the intervention of pro-bono lawyers. And of the other 200 (still remaining) - they continue to live in unimaginable circumstances, forced to choose between the traffickers and the train tracks.
You can remind Conservative MPs that asylum and immigration are not the same thing. These are children, not economic migrants.
If you live in a constituency which is Labour, Liberal, Green, SNP or otherwise, please email your MP encouraging them to TURN UP AND VOTE for the Dubs amendment.
If you care enough to donate an hour or two of your time, you can always write to or email a Conservative MP without being a constituent - although they will have no requirement to answer you - but you can tell them that this is not a constituency issue, it's a pressing humanitarian issue that needs their consideration. And the sheer volume of emails/ letters thudding into inboxes should help remind MPs that the eyes of the public are upon them. If you'd like more information on how to make your time worth while, please PM me on Facebook.
You can identify your MP here: http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/
Please sign the cross-party petition here: http://www.refugeetaskforce.org/
We've got less than two weeks. Let's make them count.
Read Tess Berry Hart's latest blog post in its entirety here.
WHAT'S IT LIKE TO VOLUNTEER IN CALAIS?
We have had to temporarily ask people to hold back on clothes donations (just for a week) at the Auberge / Help Refugees warehouse as the mountain is massive and we need to do some serious sorting to get to the items we need (although today's amazing volunteers are smashing through it, as you can see here!)
We do still really need certain items as we are stocking both the distribution points in both Calais and Dunkirk so if you're heading out, or know anyone who is, over the next few days please please bring:
PADLOCKS (with keys)
SOLAR LIGHTS / LAMPS
BAGS FOR LIFE (for cold food distribution)
We have run out of all of these and need them to make up all the men's kits for this weekend's distributions as well as welcome packs for the large numbers of new arrivals in camp.
Phew, shattered after two solid days sorting the returned aid in the Shropshire Loves warehouse. We salvaged a total of 3 large bags of aid today and 5 yesterday (about half a tonne maybe more) from the Care4Calais returns and a further couple of bags of sellable stuff too (mostly winter so we will store till autumn)!
There were lots of awesome waterproof and fleece jackets for women and children, and tonnes of new kids underwear.
Thank you so much; it's all on its way into a container to be taken to Idomeni on Monday by Sakeeb Khan, along with all the previously pre-packed aid returned from the L'Auberge warehouse.
If anyone has unsuitable summer/spring stuff - please send it to us to keep this project going - we'll be investing in supporting the Connect Aid system to keep aid flowing where it's needed.
Today we hooked up with a canvas guy who has off-cuts suitable to make baby carriers. The lady requesting baby carrier fabric is going to be over the moon!
FOOTNOTE: If you are sending aid to Calais PLEASE ONLY send items on the CURRENT NEEDS LIST. In terms of clothes that means SMALL MEN'S joggers / pants etc .... not XXL (there were loads of this size in the returns). I'm not sure minions pants classes as aid, either.
As you may know, the "Dubs Amendment" to the Immigration Bill (which would make the acceptance of 3,000 children UK law) was recently passed by the House of Lords but we now have to ensure it is passed in the Commons. Labour and the Lib Dems are in favour, however the Conservatives, as you may have seen in the press are against it. David Cameron believes that if the children are taken from Europe it will encourage more to come. However, there is absolutely zero evidence of this "pull factor".
They also say that once children are in Europe they are safe. This is absolutely, dangerously not true. Save the Children found that of the unaccompanied minors being registered across the route, 50% of them tested positive for STI's. Interpol say that 10,000 registered children have gone missing since last alone, whilst making the journey. Ten thousand. We must do ALL we can to protect them from trafficking and sexual exploitation in Europe. There have been around 90,000 unaccompanied children throughout the crisis, and 3000 should only be the start. But we NEED to get this vote pushed through. Not only will it save thousands of children from unspeakable danger, but it can set a precedent for other countries to do the same.
Winning the vote will involve persuading as many Conservative MPs as possible to vote with their conscience and for the amendment. If you live in a Conservative constituency we urge you as a matter of urgency to email your MP to ask them to vote in favour. But even if you don't, please email them TOO!! We have around 2 weeks before it goes to the commons.
Below is a link for easily emailing your MP from the Refugee Task Force, a cross party website that also comprises ourselves, Save the Children and a number of other NGOs.
We must do what Britain has always done, as with the Kinder transport in 1939 and get these children to safety.
THE KITCHEN CUPBOARDS ARE BARE - CAN YOU HELP?
14th April 2016
The team at Calais Kitchens who provide ingredients to refugees in Calais and Dunkirk camps enabling them to cook for themselves, thereby ensuring choice, independence and dignity have almost run out of supplies. Can you help?
To donate towards bulk buys:https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/calaiskitchens
To buy and bring much needed supplies to Calais, check latest needs here: (we'd love to see you be it for an hour, a day or more):Current Needs
And for an online shop and drop, check details on the website:helprefugees.org.uk/how-to-help/#food
Thank you so much
DOUBLE DECKER HAVEN
13th April 2016
Money raised is used for purchasing and providing fresh nutritional supplies like baby milk and good quality protein for kids and their mums.Your donations will go towards nappies, clothing and care for new/pregnant mothers, babies and kids. They also supply the unaccompanied minors with mobile phones so they can get in touch in an emergency, as during a recent incident when a group of them nearly suffocated inside a lorry and were able to get rescued after raising the alarm via text messages.
The "Unofficial" women & children's centre provides a safe space for hundreds of children and women living in the 'Jungle' camp in Calais 24 hours, 7 days a week, as well as caring for the many unaccompanied minors on the ground.
Led by Liz Clegg, they run daily activities, provide essential care, supplies and services necessary to support children, women and babies.
They look after pregnant women, liaise with the housing team and MSF and are the central point for distribution of all goods to women and children in the camp.
They have also begun to extend their services to those who are arriving in the UK, helping to integrate minors and women into social services and local authorities whilst offering much needed support as they are resettling into their new lives and communities.
The team is also in the process of setting up another base and office in Birmingham, offering essential support to those women and minors arriving there. This means Liz Clegg has to take on double responsibilities and so contributions will also go towards her traveling costs between the ´Jungle´ and the UK when needed and appropriate.
You can donate here.
A VOLUNTEER'S VIDEO OF HELPING IN "KITCHEN IN CALAIS"
13th April 2016
Ian Raphael Gan helped out in Calais during his spring break
and made a video of his time there.
Donations are needed every single day for all the the kitchens to feed the camp residents in Calais and Dunkirk. If you and your friends have the capacity to donate or encourage others to donate, please do help.
You can find out more about the kitchens and their fundraisers here
BAGS FOR LIFE NEEDED, PLEASE
13th April 2016
The Calais Kitchens team urgently needs Bags for Life (on a running basis). They send out approx. 150 daily to distribute essential food items to the Jungle. Even though they have a return system they are running very short now. If you are planning a trip soon to the L'Auberge Warehouse please take some Bags for Life along.
CALAID to CALAIS WEEKENDER- CALL-OUT FOR VOLUNTEERS !
13th April 2016
For anyone who has been thinking they would like to volunteer in Calais, but doesn't have vehicle- CalAid are looking to arrange a weekend trip via minibus out of London- they will help organise accommodation too!.
Two days with a team of 12-20 volunteers should sort out the donation mountain at the L'Auberge des Migrants & Help Refugees warehouse.
If you are interested, please fill in this doodle poll (so they can decide which weekend will work best for everyone) and email them at firstname.lastname@example.org (so they have your contact details and can get back to you).
CALLING ALL AWESOME DRIVERS! (with a UK D1 License)
CalAid is also looking for volunteer drivers on the 30th April and 1st May for their Calais Weekender. Please email email@example.com if you have a D1 license and experience driving a 16 seater minivan and can donate your time for the whole weekend.
UPDATE ON LORRY LOADS OF UNSUITABLE AID RETURNED FROM CALAIS
Monday 4th April 2016
The first container load of aid for Syria is mapped out and almost ready to go- filled with the INCREDIBLE returns from Calais. We have unlimited funding for as many containers as we can send (pretty much) .... I promised I'd do my very best with the returns and thanks to some amazing team work I can. It's taken an incredible lot of work to pull together the contacts to make this work. Definitely not just mine.
So here are just a FEW of the projects that are going in or that have happened from the stuff.
All of the scrap clothes (stained/ripped and not repairable/wearable) that are made out of fleece, flannelette, cotton and dense wool are in an incredible pack with templates and sewing machines for Syrian widows and single parents to make their own washable sanitary pads (they have the facilities to use these - we checked). So that included pyjamas and dressing gowns that had been pre-loved.
The shoes that were VERY dirty (there are lots) - we've had AWESOME volunteers cleaning them and pairing them then packing into aid area for container. They are SAVED. It cost £20 for some turtle wax liquid for leather car interiors - some warm water and some microfiber cloths.
The shrunken woolen jumpers have gone to local craft groups to use as fundraiser felt items.
The BOBBLY JUMPERS that I hated passionately and begged not to see have become dog beds for animals in shelters who have separation anxiety. Lol ... true. She doesn't wash them because the dogs need the smell (awkward lol).
The dreadful stained T-shirts that even cash for clothes would reject lol are being made into patchwork dresses.
We've had three container experts come to the store today and they have pointed out certain items we were selling were definitely suitable for Syria - so we've pulled 2 x one tonne bags of stuff off the rails.
I'm so so pleased and grateful that the suitable stuff STILL gets to go to refugees and not sent as cash for clothes.
We've now got the support locally and the systems to take a full lorry of returns a week to redistribute the aid.
Please please think before taking things NOT on the list for Calais - they are very clear about their needs. You can drop stuff not on the list at ours or any other warehouse that sends containers to other areas - take the pressure OFF Calais and the incredible team who work so incredibly hard to deliver exactly what Calais needs.
Teams of volunteers from Help Refugees have now completed a comprehensive census of the refugees remaining in Calais since the demolition of the Southern section of the camp and have found a total of 4946 refugees still living there - including 1400 in the containers.
The charity is calling on the French authorities to put systems in place immediately to register and safeguard the remaining 294 lone children in the camp. With Interpol already reporting over 10,000 missing refugee children in Europe, the charity is reminding the authorities of the need to do everything possible to mitigate against the children in Calais and Dunkirk adding to these numbers.
Today, we have shared the statistic with the UK children’s commissioner Anne Longfield and her French counterpart Genevieve Avenard when they visited the Calais camp with the Help Refugees' team
The full census findings is as follows:
Refugees still in the Calais camp total 4946. 4432 adult and 514 children, of whom 294 are unaccompanied minors.
This comprises 1400 adults in the containers, 170 women and children in Jules Ferry and 3376 inhabitants in the main camp area living in tents and shelters.
There are 374 children in the main camp, 209 of whom are unaccompanied minors. There are a further 140 children in the containers, 85 of whom are unaccompanied. This is a total of 514 children, 294 of whom are unaccompanied.
The average age of the minors in camp is 14.2 with the youngest just 1 month old, and the youngest unaccompanied child aged just 8 years old.
More (Small Scale) Evictions 31st March 2016
This is the area opposite the Jules Ferry centre that last week had 15 shelters on it. This was one of the oldest areas of the camp and also one of the poorest.
The French Authorities decided to evict the 40+ people who lived there this week.
This week volunteers from Care 4 Calais helped the people to move, and also did some targeted distributions here and in the surrounding area. Volunteers from L' Auberge provided three new self build shelters as some of the old ones were not strong enough to be relocated.
Even though it was horrible helping the panicked and upset refugees to find a new space we had to stop to admire the ingenuity and resourcefulness that had built these early shelters out of nothing but what could be scavenged. The frames are branches tied together with scraps of string or fabric, the walls are bin liners, broken tarps and sheets.
DUNKIRK COMMUNITY KITCHENS
31st March 2016
Melissa Harper explains the plans for the community kitchens in the new Dunkirk camp and outlines the help needed
HUNGER STRIKE ENDED
March 26th 2016
DOUBLE DECKER OFFERS CRECHE FACILITIES
The centre, which is on a double decker bus, has now converted the roof into a fully functional creche for the younger children. It also remains as a safe space for the women in the camp, and yesterday there was a full house for "women's day" giving women living in very difficult conditions some much needed comfort and respite with treats such as some henna tattoos, massages and eyebrow threading.
Help Refugees continues to fund and support the team of incredible volunteers who run the centre, to help maintain the bus and to provide the goods and aid needed.
To donate specifically to the Women & Children's Centre please go here :https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/junglewomenscentre
ART REFUGE UK
March 25th 2016
Art Refuge UK has been running open art therapy workshops in the camp each Thursday and Friday since September. Currently they work with Medecins du Monde on Thursdays from 12-5 from their large psychosocial tent, and each Friday with MSF / The Hummingbird Project Brighton from around 10.30-4.30.
The sessions are run by a small team of experienced artist/art therapists and are open to anyone who wants to join; they are well attended each week by regulars as well as new people from across the camp.
For more information visit on their website: www.artrefugeuk.org and weekly updates on our Facebook page.
SURVEY OF NEEDS
March 25th 2016
This Easter we have an exceptional team from Oxford2Calais working with us including 8 lawyers 14 medics and 15 translators who speak Arabic, Farsi and Urdu. And we have certainly put them to good use! The medics have been working with the medical team, the lawyers have been at the legal centre, and the translators have been, well, everywhere....
In particular we decided to do a qualitative survey across the camp as there have been a lot of changes recently. The terrible destruction of the evictions and the horrific violence we saw against refugees have left people feeling crushed and hopeless. We wanted to evaluate how and where help is most needed right now.
- In general the need for clothes/ bedding etc is not as desperate as a few months ago, although these things will always be needed
- They need underwear more than jumpers, and they prefer it to be black!
- They still desperately need gas... there is never enough...
- Food needs to be culturally sensitive (they don't like baked beans)
- They do not like moving out of their own area of the camp - even the now reduced camp. They are often not aware of facilities available on the opposite side of the camp to where they live.
- families are not comfortable being around a lot of single men
- communities can be anchored by religion as well as by ethnic group
- services they are most interested in are asylum workshops and English lessons, and maybe art
- services are much more useful in the afternoon due to the way the camp works
- there is a fatigue with receiving aid and a dislike of continual handouts and of having to take them, this is not good for self esteem
- they have lost faith and hope in trying to make anything better.
We are considering our response to this but initial thoughts are as follows:
- Please keep sending us aid, especially underwear and socks
- we always need money to refill gas bottles. At around €1,000/week this is our biggest expense
- we would like to do more community outreach projects going forward. We need translators, people who want to do English or art workshops, asylum lawyers
- thank you so much to all our supporters. We want to help the refugees in as many ways as possible and we couldn't do it without you.
To volunteer or donate see www.care4calais.org
JUNGLE BOOKS MOVES NORTH
Monday 21st March 2016
Over the weekend a team of Care4Calais and other volunteers worked together to rebuild Jungle Books in its new location in the North zone.
SAFE PASSAGE FOR UNACCOMPANIED MINORS
Monday 21st March 2016
Happy to report some really good news... 3 Syrian boys, all unaccompanied minors, have just arrived in the UK from Calais and are being reunited with their families under Dublin 3 Rules while they apply for asylum. It's a huge relief to know that tonight they will be warm, safe and with loved ones. With at least 150 other known cases in Calais, let's hope they are just the first of many.
Congratulations to Citizens UK and the #safepassage team. Truly brilliant news. We are proud to support them in their vital work.
LORDS PASS "DUBS AMENDMENT"!
Monday 21st March 2016
The "Dubs Amendment" to allow in 3,000 unaccompanied children WAS PASSED in the Lords by 306 to 204 this afternoon!!
Amazing news!!! - though now it's back to the Commons where it will face severe opposition from the Government.
Calais Action will be back in Parliament tomorrow to discuss the outcome and how we can continue to campaign on this issue - we'll keep you posted!! For now, THANK YOU SO MUCH to all of you who have spent your time lobbying peers and raising awareness of this issue.
HELP REFUGEES CALAIS AND DUNKERQUE VOLUNTEER APPEAL
Saturday 19th March 2016
We are currently incredibly low on general volunteers in Calais and Dunkerque.
Now that our Calais team's operations have increased to cover the Dunkerque camp; sorting, storage, building, as well as sending volunteers and large quantities of aid to the camp on a daily basis, we need lots of hands to keep operations running smoothly for those who we are here to support, the residents of these two camps.
Please rally around to get a group together where possible and come for as many days as you can spare. We are particularly short during the week but, as always, we welcome help at weekends too.
In particular, and somewhat urgently, we need someone, or multiple people, who have a license to drive a forklift, since we are losing our wonderful yard manager.
Please come ready to get involved in whatever is needed on the day. We rely on your ability to adapt to the ever changing needs and requirements as we do.
Click here to find out more and to register as a volunteer with us.
For more information about forklift driving / yard role, or if you are interested in building and have questions please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for your overwhelming, ongoing support.
This afternoon the Prefecture officially announced to the Associations working in the Calais camp that the proposed demolition of the northern section of the camp will not go ahead.
The demolition of the Southern section of the camp was completed on Wednesday this week. The only structures remaining are Jungle Books Library and School, the Ethiopian Church, Baloo's Youth Centre, the Hummingbird Clinic and the Information Centre where the hunger strikers are currently based.
Over the last couple of weeks many refugees have left the camp but the majority have moved into the northern section. Some services, such as the Women and Children's Centre and Ashram Kitchen have also relocated to the North.
The Prefect has requested collaboration with the Associations on ensuring sufficient facilities for residents in the North since many of those in the southern part are no longer accessible.
We intend to conduct a new census next week to ascertain the total remaining number of residents in the camp and to map key areas, with a particular focus on the locations and needs of the most vulnerable.
We will also be building 2 new distribution points so that we can continue to distribute regularly and in a dignified manner.
We are particularly relieved that the hundreds of unaccompanied minors are not being evicted and sent to unknown destinations without proper assessments and safeguarding. We continue to campaign for the children who have legal rights under Dublin III to be reunited with their families in the UK.
We hope that the French Authorities abide by this decision.
The Calais demolition will leave thousands homeless including 423 unaccompanied children.
THIS WEEK (9th March - 16 March) the Lords will be voting on the provisions of the Immigration Bill including the "Dubs Amendment" (the acceptance by the UK of 3,000 unaccompanied children) and the "Hylton Amendment" (the extension of the parameters of family reunion and legal aid provision). There's STILL TIME to pressure peers to support these amendments because voting will go on to next Wednesday 16th! So can you help?
Write to LABOUR and CROSSBENCH peers (Members of the House of Lords) to ask them to SUPPORT both amendments (the Lib Dems are already on board) You can use any of the following information:
The French authorities are currently forcibly evicting people from the Calais camps without adequate alternative accommodation, amongst them 423 unaccompanied children. There is widespread public support in the UK for bringing over child refugees and it is imperative that due to political concerns the unaccompanied children of Calais and Dunkirk are not overlooked.
The full texts of the proposed amendments are as follows:
THE "DUBS" AMENDMENT:
115 Insert the following new Clause—
“Unaccompanied refugee children: relocation and support
(1) The Secretary of State must, as soon as possible after the passing of this Act, make arrangements to relocate to the United Kingdom and support 3,000 unaccompanied refugee children from other countries in Europe.
(2) The relocation of children under subsection (1) shall be in addition to the resettlement of children under the Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme.”
Why should peers support it?
1). The conditions in camps across Europe – particularly Dunkirk – are not suitable for adult habitation (let alone children). There is no protection for unaccompanied minors, and the opportunities for child exploitation, trafficking, abuse and kidnapping are rife. The Calais camp will shortly be demolished and the French authorities have not provided sufficient alternatives so many will be driven into the small unprotected squats that are springing up along the coast (currently at least 12 small squats have been identified by organisations working on the ground)
2). Public support for bringing over child refugees is clear. Thousands of people and faith groups have offered to house child refugees, so there can be no disagreement on economic terms. It is more important than ever that the government commit to this agreement as camps across Europe are hit by winter weather.
3). Bringing 3000 unaccompanied refugee children to the UK emphasises the government’s commitment to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Article 3 states that ‘the best interests of the child shall be the primary consideration’; we should not be punishing innocent children for something they have no choice in.
THE HYLTON AMENDMENT
120 Insert the following new Clause—
“Family reunion: persons with international protection needs
(1) Rules made by the Secretary of State under section 3 of the Immigration Act 1971 (general provisions for regulation and control), shall, within six months of the passing of this Act, make provision for—
(a) British citizens and persons settled in the UK to be enabled to sponsor their children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, spouses, civil or unmarried partners, or siblings, who are persons registered with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees or with the authorities responsible for the protection of refugees in the State in which they are present, to come to the UK on terms no less favourable than those under rules made under that section which apply to family members of persons recognised as refugees, save that it may be provided that those sponsored shall have no recourse to public funds; and
(b) applications for refugee family reunion from the children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, spouses, civil or unmarried partners, or siblings of persons recognised as refugees or who have been granted humanitarian protection in the United Kingdom.
(2) An order shall be made by the Lord Chancellor under section 9(2)(a) of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (general cases) in respect of family reunion for the persons described in subsection within six months of the passing of this Act.”
Why should peers support it?
1). Under current legislation, people granted refugee status or humanitarian protection in the UK can apply to legally bring family members to the UK. Currently, only married partners and dependent children under the age of 18 are defined as “family”. The Hylton amendment broadens the definition of family to include grandchildren, grandparents, and civil or unmarried partners.
2). This could potentially mean that tens (or possibly thousands) of asylum seekers across Europe who have grandchildren, grandparents, and civil or unmarried partners could be granted humanitarian leave in the UK.
3). The justification for this amendment is clear; a grandchild or unmarried partner is no less a ‘family’ member than a dependent child or partner. There is, therefore, no reason why they should not qualify for family reunion.
Once these provisions have been voted on (around the 16th) then the bill will return to the Commons for "ping-pong". Please do write and let the peers know where we stand!
There always is to an extent, but with the demolitions people are living in really scattered places and having to walk miles. The police also enjoy removing people's shoes when they catch them and makethem walk back barefoot.
Y👟You can donate shoes through http://www.leisurefayre.com/section.php/86100/1/help_refugees
It’s International Women’s Day today and I would like to tell you guys a story about Maya.
Maya is my hero. The first and only volunteer I met when we initially started going to the Jungle, she devoted her life to the camp a long time ago with her charity L’Auberge Des Migrants. When she walks through the camp, she literally radiates love. It sounds cheesy, but I’ve never seen this phrase ring more true. She knows EVERYONE, and by name, and they know her as ‘Mamma’. Sometimes she even knows their shoe size, reassuring them that,
“Yes yes, I bought a pair of size 38’s in my bag for you!”
As the months have passed, I have consistently looked to Maya as my inspiration. She is the type of person that you hang on to her every word and can’t take your eyes off her as she speaks, with constant passion and conviction.
A couple of months ago some circumstances in Maya’s life changed, leaving her needing somewhere to live, and when she phoned me to tell me, she had already made up her mind.. she had decided to move into the Jungle. It was December.
I wasn’t the only one that was worried, many of the refugees that knew and loved her were also concerned, and took it upon themselves to find her a caravan. Those with no home for themselves, found Maya a new home. Her caravan was parked right outside Kabul Cafe, the camps first ever restaurant, belonging to her good friend, who had insisted on this location so he could look out for her. These pictures show the night she moved in. There was no space and we were sure it wouldn’t fit, but together, the community made it work.
Community being the optimum word. Maya reiterated to me again and again that she gained more from living in the camp than she could ever give. She had learnt more than she could ever teach and experienced a sense of community she had never known before. “Jaz,” she told me, “the refugees may want what we have in terms of material possession, a home, a car, a job, but what they have is so much more valuable. What they have is something we have lost, something that got left behind somewhere along the way in the Western world, a true sense of camaraderie. What many of us search for our whole lives, the Jungle has in abundance; love, authenticity, togetherness."
Maya showed me that any of us can be a refugee at some point in our lives. Any of us can lose everything we have, leave behind everything we know, suffer loss, face obstacles, experience struggle. But as long as we come together in support of one another, love and humanity will prevail. We are all the same, it’s only a matter of circumstance that some of us live in refugee camps and others don’t.
So this is a huge shout out to Maya, the most incredible, international woman I know.
I love you Maya
Firstly, the crisis in Calais is not going away.
To understand why, it is necessary to understand why there are refugees in Calais in the first place, and what has happened in Calais in recent weeks.
In 2015 over 70,000 people made asylum claims in France (source: Eurostat). 440,000 made claims in Germany. Against this, the 6,000 in Calais is a small number, so why are these people here?
Generally the refugees in Calais have very strong ties to the UK, so that is where they want to be. Many have close family living in the UK that they want to be reunited with. Others may have lived in the UK before. Some served with the British army in places like Afghanistan, and that is the reason they have had to leave their own homes – because they helped us. These strong ties mean that they will continue with their quest to get to the UK. They will not abandon their families and their hope having come this far.
So what is happening now?
The French authorities are in a race against time to dismantle the camp as quickly as possible. This is because it has been predicted that as soon as the weather become milder we will see more and more refugees arriving in Calais. It has also been predicted that more of these will be families.
Legally, the French authorities are only able to evict if they can offer alternative accommodation options (hence the gross underestimate of numbers in the camp by the authorities – they only had around 1,100 places available, so they had to estimate that this was the maximum number being evicted). Once thousands more begin arriving in the spring they would have no chance of destroying the camp.
So what is happening to those being evicted?
A few have moved into the shipping containers – but there is hardly any space left
A few have moved to the centres around France – but a recent report showed that over 25% have already come back to Calais, and in any case these are due to close on 31 March
Some are moving to the north of the camp – but we believe this will be next to be cleared
The Dunkirk camp will be evicted next week and there are not enough spaces in the new camp there for everyone
So people will, and already are, dispersing around the area. There will be more and more small, temporary encampments as groups of refugees are hounded to move on by the police. They are camping in fields, churches, under bridges and in abandoned buildings. In these temporary camps there is no sanitation, no water, no access to aid or other facilities.
We must therefore adapt our aid operation. We need to become mobile and flexible as our jobs, and their living conditions become harder. We will work harder and find ways to help them.
For months, we have been requesting large tents, large stoves and gas bottles and food that can be cooked in bulk in community kitchens.
Going forward, we need:
small (but still robust) tents
sleeping bags and blankets
small stoves and small gas canisters
food which requires either no cooking or limited preparation
wind up torches
We will still need clothes, socks, waterproofs, boots and phones
Most of all, we need more volunteers and more donations. A mobile operation does not allow the previous economies of scale. It’s more expensive and requires more people. We will need to fundraise for another, or maybe two more, vans.
To donate click here: http://care4calais.org/donate/
If you would like to volunteer then click here:http://care4calais.org/volunteer/
Photo by at Rob Pinneyhttp://robpinney.photoshelter.com/image/I0000yIJj5ApcDPk
Mobile Crisis Support Unit - CARAVAN UPDATE
Sunday 6th March 2016
We are fully aware that the final eviction is pending and are heavily focused on keeping the vehicles running to continue to deliver aid.
The women and children now have some mobile crisis support.
DESPERATE PLEA FROM CALAIS REFUGEES WHO HAVE SEWN THEIR MOUTHS SHUT – AS FOUR MORE JOIN HUNGER STRIKE
Refugees in the Calais Jungle have sewn their mouths shut in a heart wrenching protest against recent evictions in the refugee camp. The eight refugees are now on day four of a hunger strike and say they will not remove the stitches, or eat, until their legal appeal is heard before the European Court of Human Rights. Their simple request is that the eviction is suspended until the legal proceedings are concluded.
They told us they have resorted to this as they feel they have no voice, no rights and no options left, even though they are now in Europe where things are supposed to be different to the dreadful places they fled.
Tom Radcliffe, a British volunteer has also joined the hunger strike.
The eight refugees, all from Iran, are:
Mokthar, 34 years old, Maths teacher
Mohammed, 25 years old, aeronautical engineer
Sasan, 17 years old, student
Daoud, 30 years old, tattoo artist
Mohammed, 43 years old, jeweller
Rezza, 24 years old, personal trainer
Hamed, 25 years old, car dealer
Ishmail, 46 years old, building foreman
The warehouse is empty. Please help!
Providing emergency supplies to refugees having their homes demolished in Calais and creating packs for everyone in the camp in Dunkirk has wiped out all our stock. We need EVERYTHING!!!!! Sleeping bags, blankets, roll mats, shoes, jackets, jeans, jogging bottoms, underwear, hat, gloves, coats, toiletries, food - THE LOT.
No donations have arrived in days. If you have stuff to bring, PLEASE still come, and come soon!
Email email@example.com for more info.
You can also buy items online here: helprefugees.leisurefayre.com
Or donate funds so that we can buy essentials:https://mydonate.bt.com/charities/helprefugees
We need your help at this desperate time…
To volunteer or donate please email firstname.lastname@example.org
RAPAR’s two young Afghan interpreters, who worked for the British army for four years and who are trapped in Calais - http://www.channel4.com/news/catch-up/display/playlistref/270216 - have spent the last two nights in makeshift tents on the north side of the camp, sharing with other homeless Afghan men.
“I went to see my friend. When I came back our caravan was burned. I don’t know who did it.”
His travelling companion and fellow interpreter, Said (not his real name) added:
“The same as everyone, we got burned and nowhere to go. A lot of people are homeless, and we are the same. ”
On Tuesday night (1st), and completely independently of these young men, Megan Howell, an English photographer currently based in Calais, reported to RAPAR that a huge fire had burned for 20 minutes - but the CRS* water cannon, visible and immobile, remained on the motorway bridge until the fire had been put out.
“The water cannon drove up to the fire, after it was out.”
RAPAR’s two young men, Abdullah and Said, have instructed French lawyer, Orsane Broisin, to act on their behalf. Following meetings on Sunday with both men, Ms Broisin told RAPAR:
“These young men must apply for international protection in France first, which will be done by the end of this week.”
“They are destroying the camp, and burning the rooms at night. Some people say it is French people burning the rooms, and some people say it is refugees. I don’t know. But, from everything that has happened to them, some refugees are going crazy now. They [the French State] just want us to leave this area but there is no place outside the Jungle for us to go.”
* CRS - Compagnies Républicaines de Sécurité - the only official force of law and order to be seen in the Calais "Jungle" camp.
Most of the occupants were able to pack a few things and move to other parts of the camp.
Some wishing to peacefully protest sat on the roof of their shelters but one husband and wife were subjected to enforced police eviction and arrest.
This evening volunteers moved 50 caravans, all housing families to a safer area within the camp.
We are unable to clarify how many spaces are currently remaining in the containers but at the start of the day yesterday there were just 140 left and we know that many more individuals and families have now been moved in.
Some people are taking the option to be bused to Centres of Accommodation around France (there are two buses on standby daily but often leave half empty) but for the time being, most are either trying to temporarily move to the North of the camp, or they have begun seeking out alternative camps to head to.
The overall mood in camp was a feeling of sad resignation.-
STATEMENT BY CARE4CALAIS: Calais Jungle Violence
Tuesday March 1st 2014
Care4Calais condemns the way that French authorities have handled recent evictions in the Calais Jungle.
In a press conference last week the Prefecture assured journalists that the dismantling of the southern part of the camp would be gradual, humane and respectful to the dignity of the people living in the camp. The Minister of the Interior, Bernard Cazenove, reiterated this insisting the approach would be humanitarian. The lawyer from the Prefecture at the hearing last Tuesday said that the two key reasons for evacuating the Jungle were the dignity of refugees and their security.
If the intention truly was, as stated, to move people to better accommodation why the excessive haste to destroy existing homes? Why not move people out then return in four weeks time for the clearance? Instead, yesterday, we saw people being forced from homes that were immediately destroyed before their eyes. The objective is clearly the destruction of the camp.
The refugees were told they had one hour to leave their homes or they would be arrested. Many were escorted from the homes by armed police. We consider this approach to be extremely confrontational and unnecessarily provocative to people who have already suffered so much.
It was confirmed in the French court that only 1156 alternative accommodation places were currently available in Calais and throughout France. The Jungle is home to over 5000 refugees of which 3,455 live in this southern section alone. A recent survey by L’Auberge des Migrants and Help Refugees found more than 440 children - of whom 291 are unaccompanied minors - live in the section that is being destroyed right now. Therefore there is nowhere near enough alternative accommodation being provided for the numbers that are being made homeless.
The levels of violence seen in the camp yesterday were completely disproportionate. Over 200 police with prevalent firing of tear gas and use of water cannons. There are over 5000 people in the camp including families with young children, elderly people and unaccompanied children. Turning their communities into a war zone is dangerous, terrifying and not at all necessary. Many of our volunteers were in the camp all day yesterday and all commented that the only time they felt afraid was from the French police.
We also condemn the French court’s decision to demolish parts of the camp. We hope the humanitarian crisis created in Calais will reach a conclusion soon and that the French and British authorities will safeguard the basic human rights and safety of the people living there. Asylum is a right, and repression of refugees is a denial of democracy.
CALAIS STATEMENT BY HELP REFUGEES - DESTRUCTION BEGINS
February 29th 2016
Today in the Calais camp hundreds of riot police were present, carrying guns and detonating tear gas canisters which affected men, women, children (and BBC journalists), some which caused fires to start all across camp.
Many refugees who had come to France to escape genuine war zones lost their belongings and homes again today.
The morning began with 55 CRS vans pulling up and unloading hundreds of riot police. Bulldozers and water cannons were lined up outside camp and teams from the Prefecture began to systematically destroy shelters using mallets and chainsaws.
The police formed a human shield preventing refugees from collecting their valuables and used tear gas to repeatedly drive back residents as they dismantled occupied and unoccupied homes. More tear gas was used to force additional residents to evacuate their homes and the structures were then torn down preventing them from being able to gather their personal affairs.
Our teams on the ground spent their time grabbing fire extinguishers to contain the burning shelters and washing the eyes of children caught in the tear gas, as well as trying to hand emergency supplies to refugees leaving the camp, many confused as to where to go.
It was confirmed in French court last week that despite Help Refugees census finding 3,455 people there are only 1156 alternative accommodation places currently available in Calais and throughout Frances, leaving a deficit of around 2,299
The French government have not since informed us that they have found more spaces, to accommodate the total number of people they are evicting from the Southern part of the camp.
In a press conference last week the Prefect assured journalists that the dismantling of the Southern section of the 'jungle' would be gradual, humane and respectful of the dignity of the people living in the camp. The Minister of the Interior, Bernard Cazenove reiterated this insisting the approach would be humanitarian. The lawyer from the Prefecture at the hearing last Tuesday said that the two key reasons for evacuating the Jungle were for 1) the dignity of refugees and 2) their security. The scenes of panic we witnessed today were a far cry from these principals.
The wellbeing of each and every one of the residents of the camp continues to be our main priority but of course, at this distressing time and as night falls we are especially concerned for the 423 unaccompanied children living in the Jungle.
In the course of the confusion and panic sweeping through the camp after the events of today we fear that these vulnerable young people will scatter leaving them without the basic primary care our network of volunteers gives them and adding them to the 10,000 child refugees already 'missing' in Europe according to Europol. Many of these children have family members is the UK.
We call on this situation in France to be declared an official humanitarian crisis so that experts can come to assist and that already traumatised people are offered responsible care rather than additional trauma.
We also call on the British and French governments to expedite the Dublin III process allowing those unaccompanied refugee children in Calais with immediate family in the UK to come to Britain to reunite with them.
There are thousands of people who need feeding through the next days and weeks and emergency packs need to be put together on a rolling programme so small bottles of water, food that doesn't need cooking like tinned fish (with ring pulls), good quality cereal bars, and dried fruit and nuts are needed, please.
The Refugee community kitchen needs garlic
All the kitchens need rice
Other priorities are tea, sugar and tinned cooked pulses especially chick peas (with ring pulls)
February 26th 2016
There was a fire today in one of the Eritrean areas and a shelter sleeping 40 people burnt down.
Care4calais volunteers attended the scene with tents, beds and sleeping bags, and made lists of lost clothes so replacements could be found.
To donate see www.care4calais.org
NEW FUNDRAISER: £9,000 WILL BUY A DOUBLE DECKER BUS TO SHELTER CHILDREN IN CALAISJuliet STEVENSON: I'm an actress and I've been actively engaged in refugee issues for many years. I've been going to Calais since November. Sophie NL BESSE: I'm a theatre maker and I have been volunteering in Calais for the past six months, going there on a monthly basis. We're raising £9,000 to buy a double decker bus to shelter the children in Calais after the destruction of the camp. Liz will make a dormitory and a living area.
MESSAGE FROM LEA BEVEN (CARAVANS IN CALAIS)
25th February 2016
Update on caravans situation since the announcements.
The team on the ground have everything under control and will ONLY move if the appeal is unsuccessful. The families are working with Ben Harrison and an incredible team. There is a proper plan and a steady and safe move planned if needed, to a place that's been prepared. Please don't panic. The families will all be moved by volunteers who have an existing relationship with them. There are plenty of drivers/vehicles.
So so sad - but we will do our very best to ensure the families are OK.
VERDICT POSTPONED - WHAT HAPPENED IN COURT
18.30pm February 23rd 2016
The hearing has completed. Court sat for around 1hr 45 minutes.
The judge did not rule. We do not have a confirmed time for the verdict but it is believed likely to be tomorrow.
Defence confirmed they only have 1156 alternative accommodation places currently available in Calais and throughout France. (details below)
The Associations census data shows need to accommodate 3455 people from Southern section of camp imminently- and a further 2042 in the Northern section which Prefecture have stated they will clear next.
Judge greatly concerned about differing numbers. Said the Prefecture figures were 'a big problem'. Demanded an explanation for how numbers arrived at.
Prefecture admitted flaws in their methods for assessing numbers, particularly of children, currently in camp. But said they believed entire camp (north and south) to be around 3000 people.
Associations explained census methodology including a tally with water consumption and waste production on site as well as food distribution numbers.
Defence failed to refute the claim that the CAO's (Centres of Accommodation) would only be available until 31st March.
Defence stated essential services will not be destroyed. We understand these to include the church, the school, the women and children's centre, the youth centre and the library.
The lawyer for the associations, Julie Bonnier, called for the French authorities to stop the traumatisation of vulnerable people by bulldozing their homes in midst of winter. She also reminded the Judge not to commit the same humanitarian mistake that was made with Sangatte where it was razed, only to leave smaller slums and squats in it's place.
Julie Bonnier also reminded the judge that in 2015 the refugees were invited to occupy this space and assured there was no chance of expulsion.
And Bonnier reminded the court that if Centres of Accommodation are only available until 31st March, people will simply return to Calais - she asked for a consistency in the services and solutions on offer.
Accommodation places available include:
300 in Jules Ferry and the shipping containers - with 48 places within containers for children (adult supervision to be provided).
56 places in specialised accommodation in Calais and surrounds for children
200 places in 'heated tents' for children in Calais camp
200 places in 'heated tents' for adults
400 places in centres of accommodation around France
A note from the Associations (not raised in court) - 400 of the 480 places in the 'heated tents' are currently uninhabitable. They are flooded, not heated, prone to collapsing in heavy winds (causing one man to have his leg broken) and have no facilities or services for vulnerable children.
We await the verdict with interest.
COACH TO LILLE - JUDGE NAMED
12.30pm February 23rd 2016
The coach in Calais has loaded (captured on camera by Newsnight film crew) and the teams are on their way to the court case in Lille. Passengers include over 20 #refugees (community spokespeople, women & children) and aid workers. HR lawyer ,Julie Bonnier, has confirmed the judge as Valérie Quéméner.
CALAIS CAMP - TOTAL NUMBER OF RESIDENTS CONFIRMED (FOR FIRST TIME)
February 22nd 2016
When the French Government announced on Friday 12th February that they would be clearing the Southern section of the Calais camp, they estimated this would involve the relocation of approximately 800-1000 residents to the containers or alternative centres of accommodation in approx 100 locations around France.
Our teams on the ground felt these numbers wildly underestimated the true population of the camp, and concerned that many would be evicted from their homes in the midst of winter, without sufficient alternative accommodation on offer, Help Refugees and L'Auberge Des Migrants began a thorough and methodical census of the entire camp.
We can now reveal total numbers of residents in the Calais camp for the first time.
Our census shows:
5497 Total Residents
182 Family Units
651 Children of which 423 are unaccompanied.
Our census did not include government run facilities including Jules Ferry (for women and children) and the shipping containers which hold 1500 and have only 300 spaces left.
Our concerns remain with welfare of the unaccompanied minors.
We have had no assurances from the French authorities that they will conduct assessments to determine best interests of these children and ensure proper safeguarding is in place before removing them from the camp and the communities they know and trust.
We urge them to delay the demolition of the southern section of the camp until these needs are met.
Tomorrow afternoon our concerns will be heard at the court in Lille. We will keep you updated on events throughout the day.
21st February 2016
At 2pm on Sunday 21st February 2016, Jude Law, Juliet Stevenson, Tom Odell, Sir Tom Stoppard, Matt Berry, Shappi Khorsandi and Toby Jones alongside a number of displaced refugees, took to the stage to perform a one off Letters Live performance in association with Good Chance at the refugee camp in Calais, France. The performance was held in aid of Help Refugees, a humanitarian organisation providing much of the aid on the ground, and took place at Good Chance Theatre, a temporary theatre based in the Jungle which offers a varied programme of art, theatre and music events.
The show included a reading of a the full letter to David Cameron which was delivered earlier this week (see details below) as well as Ghandi’s letter to Hitler ‘For the sake of humanity’ and ‘We Are Just Ordinary People’ a letter from a refugee to the people of Europe.
Juliet Stevenson read her heartfelt message to the refugees saying: “You have already made incredible journeys to get here, journeys that required strength and courage that we can only dream of possessing. I am so ashamed of the Europe that has refused you and of the politicians who have failed you. They do not speak for us. There is another Europe, which will fight on your behalf, and where you will always be welcome.”
Liz Clegg, a British volunteer who runs the makeshift women & children’s centre in the camp read a letter to one of the young unaccompanied boys she cares for, telling him of her fears for him, adding “I can’t promise to solve this, but I am trying…I will fight to the bitter end to keep you safe”.
Performed to an audience of around 200 refugees the unique and unprecedented event was mounted two days before the proposed official eviction of more than 3500 people from the southern section of the Calais camp, which is being challenged by Help Refugees, L'Auberge des Migrants and several other organisations on the ground in the French courts, with a hearing set for Tuesday in Lille at 2pm.
The section of the camp which is due to be demolished is largely occupied by unaccompanied children and families. A recent census conducted by L'Auberge des Migrants & Help Refugees found over 3,000 people and more than 440 children living in this section of the camp, 291 of which are unaccompanied. Over 100 of the unaccompanied children are currently being helped by Citizens UK to claim their legal right to be reunited with their families in the UK.
Letters Live, Good Chance, Help Refugees and Citizens UK hope that today’s performance will raise awareness of the plight facing these refugees.
Speaking of their experience,
Jude Law said: “It’s our responsibility as humans to look after our children. The children in the camp at Calais need us. It isn’t a big ask. It is simply the right thing to do.”
Taj, a Afghani refugee from the camp who performed at the event said: “We are not soldiers, we are not politicians, we are not terrorists. We are ordinary people who want to live a peaceful life. Please open your hearts and borders to us, and help to end the war.”
Tom Odell said: “Today was one of the most humbling and inspiring experiences of my life. Something needs to be done.”
Help Refugees said: "We are overwhelmed by the level of support from everyone coming together today in a show of solidarity to highlight the plight facing the refugees in Calais and Dunkirk. The bulldozing of the camp must be postponed until the children have adequate and safe alternatives, which are currently not on offer. We would like to thank Letters Live, all the British artists who performed, Good Chance, and most of all the refugees who took part in today."
Good Chance Theatre said:
"Today was an example of the energy that can be produced if we work together. This is an unjust set of circumstances. Children should not live like this in any country of the world. We want this day to draw deserved attention to the situation these people find themselves in. It was a pleasure to work with Help Refugees, Citizens UK and Letters Live to achieve this moment." Joe Murphy & Joe Robertson, The Good Chance Theatre."
Earlier this week Letters Live, Help Refugees, Citizens UK and Good Chance delivered a letter to David Cameron calling for urgent action to delay the demolition of the southern part of the camp to allow time for intervention to ensure adequate protection of the camps refugee children. More than 110,000 people including over 150 public figures have now signed this letter.
APPEAL FROM HELP REFUGEES & L'AUBERGE DES MIGRANTS IN CALAIS:
The long term volunteers in Calais are asking for anyone with experience working with us to spare time this coming week, particularly during Monday - Thursday. We all hope that the court case this Tuesday will rule in favour of protecting the vulnerable and at risk; whatever the outcome we expect it to be an incredibly busy and demanding week. Those who are familiar with the systems and the camp will be crucial in our ability to support the residents during this challenging time. Your patience and flexibility will be hugely
Most needed items to bring with you:
Republic of France
Ministry of the Interior
From the Minister
Paris, 18 February 2016
In your letter today, which you have chosen to make public, you raise with me the issue of the proposed dismantling of the southern area of the camp and ask me to postpone the evacuation. You seem to attribute this State initiative exclusively to renewed tensions in the Calais area. Anyone with a heart-felt concern of the situation of migrants, and I know that this is the case with you, cannot be satisfied with the situation facing many of them in the camp. Similarly, no-one can argue that these disgraceful conditions are better than those offered to migrants in the temporary reception centre that the State has built, and whose management has been entrusted to the association The Active Life. 1500 places have been created in 125 containers for 12 people, with running water, electricity and heating.
A thousand people still live, however, in the South zone [of the camp], in particularly difficult conditions as you know. While the State is in a position to offer accommodation suitable for all of them, it does not seem responsible to want them to stay in the camp or to perpetuate such a slum.
This priority is at the heart of the action we have conducted, in a spirit of partnership with all the stakeholders involved in Calais. This partnership is a strong point at heart and I hope that continues. Only together can we solve such a complex and delicate situation, which affects the courses of human lives. The tireless work, led by the State, is along two inseparable and complementary paths: On the one hand to strengthen, with utter determination, the fight against the smugglers, living off human misery and those who use the camp as a base to carry out their misdeeds. In this regard, I recall that 28 networks that were operating from Calais were put out of harm's way by my services in 2015. This is twice more than in 2014. On the other hand, to offer migrants living in the camp a humanitarian response. You have contributed very directly to this fundamental action. I want to thank you and invite you to continue our cooperation in this direction.
You state in your letter that the idea of the temporary reception centre would be insufficient. I remember the criticisms heard during the opening: the centre would not be attractive because of its secure access, which would have frightened most migrants. Six weeks after opening, it is clear that 1195 people have joined and that 80 places are available daily for immediate occupation. The centre has demonstrated its attractiveness, and migrants willingly leave the cold and mud to join it. You state further that the centre would not be suitable as it would not provide a social area. But I observed that the teams that carrying out this work create shared spaces which are highly valued by migrants, such as 3 areas and 3 social spaces of 80m2 each. Two of them are dedicated to the men and one is for families with toys and mats available for children. A nursery will open soon. Improvements are certainly possible, offering migrants more social spaces in the north of the camp. I will listen to any proposal you would like to make and we could discuss them.
Regarding the Reception And Orientation [CAO or Winter Respite] centres, and you know 102 such centres were opened throughout the country since 27 October. They are all small reception units, human in scale, all offering an appropriate quality of support in a friendly place where they are accompanied socially and in their administrative procedures. This initiative is subject to close control exercised by me with the greatest attention, which I am fully prepared to share with you. I want to tell you as well that two statements were published on the operation of CADA [Asylum Seekers’ hosting centres], my weekly services meet all regional prefects to create projects and discuss their implementation, and weekly follow-up surveys are undertaken. To date, 2665 people have been oriented to CADA from Calais and Grande-Synthe [the Dunkirk camp]. These 2665 are in addition to 1600 departures from Calais to the CADA or AT-SA in a year. During a whole year, more than 4200 people were able to receive guidance in a place suited to their care.
With particular migrants oriented to CADA, specific monitoring of the progress of people who are accommodated there is done by all State services: at national level and at local level, ensuring they are offered options as flexible as possible. The establishment of each centre has been specifically monitored by the prefectures (which have mandated, at my request, departmental coordinators dedicated to this task) to ensure that the home is not limited to mere sheltering, but provides adequate benefits, and that the creation of these structures is done in harmony with locally elected officials. The cost to run these centres is high, often more than 25 Euros per day per person, because I believe that the quality of support is one of the keys to their success. The initial feedback is positive: the vast majority of migrants in CADA request asylum in France. At the last count, more than 80% of remaining CADA migrants were engaged in an asylum procedure. These CADA enable migrants who have acquired refugee status to obtain a referral to the French authorities to find suitable homes for protecting their needs. CADA migrants starting rate is low (less than 20% regardless of the method of calculation) and probably inevitable in such structures, even if we make sure it is as limited as possible. These centres are open: I invite you to visit one of them at your convenience for you to realise for yourselves the reality of their implementation.
I also recall the unique effort that the State has made to direct asylum-seekers to their dedicated hosting as soon as possible. In this regard, the government is currently conducting an unprecedented effort for the accommodation of asylum seekers, with the creation of 13,630 places of CADA, 4000 AT-SA places over two years, with 500 places of temporary accommodation (2015 and 2016). Calais migrants naturally benefit as they engage in the asylum procedure in France.
I have also asked my services to systematically inform the British authorities of migrants present in CADA files who might qualify for legal entry into the United Kingdom – particularly those with family ties, in compliance with European regulations. I will ensure that all the dossiers submitted under this procedure will be sympathetically considered.
The situation on the camp cannot continue. Men and women who survive, after particularly traumatic life events, deserve better than a life under a tent or in a shed, in the illusory expectation of passage to the UK that was fraudulently promised them by the people-traffickers. We must, together, continue to work to offer them dignified solutions and the opportunity to rethink their life choices.
The evacuation of the southern zone must be completed. It will be, gradually and with respect for people, taking into account each individual's situation and providing guidance to the interim care centre, reception and guidance centres or one of the dedicated facilities for vulnerable people, according to their needs and therefore everyone's needs.
Please accept, Distinguished Presidents, the assurance of my highest consideration.
CALAIS NGOs TAKE LEGAL ACTION TO STOP THE BULLDOZING OF THE CALAIS JUNGLE
February 19th 2016
via Calais Migrant Solidarity No Borders FB group
The NGOs and Associations working in the Calais Jungle have taken legal action alongside the refugees living there to stop the evictions and bulldozing of the southern half of the camp. The hearing will take place at the court in Lille on Tuesday 23 February ay 2pm.
The action does not support the ‘Jungle’ as being a good solution; rather it states that viable alternatives should be on offer if the refuges are going to be evicted. The NGOs do not believe that either the container camp or the respite centres (CAOs) are suitable or adequate.
The NGOs have applied for an interim suspension order to stop the Calais prefecture issuing an eviction order on the southern half of the camp. This approach was taken because of fears that a 48 hour eviction notice would be issued on Friday night, when the courts would be shut for the following 48 hours, leaving no possibility of a legal challenge. The lawyer taking the case on behalf of the NGOs and the refugees is Julie Bonnier who has extensive experience of working on evictions in Roma slums.
The bases of the claim are that:
1) When the current camp was set up in March 2015, this was done following eviction orders on various small camps around the Calais area. At that time the then Calais prefecture promised the refugees that if they moved to this land they would be able to stay there with no threat of eviction.
2) When discussing the current proposed eviction the prefecture said there are approximately 800 to 1,000 people in the southern part of the Jungle. However, based on a population survey carried out by L’Auberge (a French charity working in the Jungle) the figure is actually over 3400. The census was done very rigorously and corroborated by other figures (distributed food, water consumed etc). This means that the French authorities suggestion of accommodating displaced people in the container camp and winter respite centres will be highly inadequate.
3) There have been various problems with the containers and respite centres which have been proposed by the French Authorities as alternative accommodation.
4) The claim also contains testimonials from thirty volunteers and NGOs who operate in the camp (library, school, health centre etc) that explain what they do and what facilities will be lost if the camp is destroyed.
Separately, in an open letter to Bernard Cazeneuve, the French Minister of the Interior, eight French charities including Emmaus, Medicines Du Monde and Secours Catholique, have condemned the decision by the French Authorities to bulldoze the southern half of the refugee camp in Calais known as the ‘Jungle’. The letter acknowledges that this action by the Authorities will probably also include the destruction of the other half of the camp over the coming weeks.
The charities point out that no viable alternative accommodation options have been offered for the refugees to move to, so they will effectively be rendered homeless.
It is also points out that when the current camp was established in March 2015, the refugees moving there from various small camps around the area were promised that, if they settled there, they would not be evicted. This promise is now being broken less than a year after it was made.
The letter ends by saying that the demolition of the Jungle will only lead to further abuses of human rights and asks that, due to the lack of viable alternatives, the eviction is postponed.
In there you will have to share accommodation with 18 different people, cultures and languages, you can't have too many belongings because others might steal them from you.
I have been living in the Jungle for more than 6 months in a tent. I helped other people to build their shelters and after a long time they finally helped me to build my own place. This is my home. In here I have my guitar which keeps me company and happy when I feel alone. I have my photography camera that inspires me to document my life in the Jungle, I feel that I am getting good at taking pictures and over the last 3 months I have decided that I want to be a photographer. In my house I am warm, and I try to decorate it with the little that has been donated to me. I like to be in my home when things get too hard out there. In here I feel safe and have a big sense of identity that reminds me who I am after everything I have been through.
There is space for only 750 more people in the containers, we don't know what is going to happen to the rest of us when they destroy our homes? Where will we go? For how long? Are we going to be safe? Why they are doing this to us? Haven't we suffered enough? We came to Europe to feel safe after we escaped from the darkness that is in our countries, we never thought that Europe was going to treat us this way. They are taking our freedom, our hope, our sense of community, the family areas, our religious places and they are putting us in these containers without any explanation of what is going to happen to us or for how long are we going to stay there...
I feel really depressed right now, I am only 24 years old and I don't know what to do with my life."
A hello to the prime minister of the Great, Great Britain. Mr. David Cameron. I was wondering if I could take up a few minutes of your precious time for you to read this letter from an unfortunate and homeless refugee.
I am a refugee, who had to flee his country with his wife in order to save our lives, and the life of our unborn child, who was born in the jungle.
With all the horrendous suffering on the journey, and cruelty at the hands of the smugglers, we managed to get to Calais jungle, where the good people of the U.K. provided us with a good caravan for me and my heavily pregnant wife.
After moving into the caravan for a few days, my wife went into labour and we were taken to the hospital. 3 days after the birth of our child, we were set back to the jungle. The weather had become so cold and as a result of not having anything to warm our baby up, she’d got a really bad chest infection. My wife had also got a very serious infection in her breast and required emergency surgery.
They were both admitted to the hospital.
The humidity, and our inability to dry ourselves off from the wet weather also caused me to get ill; I got a very serious infection in my intestines and also had to have emergency surgery. After 40 days of all of us being hospitalised, we were told y the hospital and French officials that we could not take our baby back to the jungle with us, and unless we’d seek asylum in France, our baby would be taken off us and given to a French family until something was decided. So for our baby’s sake, we claimed asylum.
But as soon as the paperwork was done, they sent us back to the jungle.
It has now been 6 months since we have been living in the jungle. We have visited the immigration centre on numerous occasions but they have told us they have no accommodation or Iranian families, no allowance or any further support.
Because of my wife’s operation on her breast, she is not able to breast feed our baby girl at all. I have no choice but to find powdered baby milk for my little girl, but the smugglers have taken all the money I had to my name.
If it wasn’t for the kind volunteers who care about humanity, my baby girl would have died in a country where they claim they uphold human rights. Almost every week, we have families visit us from the UK to see how we are doing, bringing our baby clothes and milk.
I don’t understand. I have witnessed time and time again how people are willing to risk their lives to save a cat or a dog; are our lives not equal to that of the animals that we have been left here? We ran away for our lives, and it seems our life has no more value here than it did in the place we escaped from.
Just imagine it was one of your family members, friends or relatives in the jungle right now, would you still be willing to stick to your decision in refusing to help us?
Please come to the jungle just once, come and feel our pain. Come and see if this is an appropriate place to raise a child. My baby girl hasn’t had a shower in 3 months, this isn’t fair or just.
I don’t want to get involved in your politics, I just want to reach out to you as a father. As a father, you know that the hardest thing is to watch your child suffer; but every day, I watch my baby suffer and I wish I could die than see it.
I tried to save my baby’s life when I ran away…I didn’t realise I would bring her to a place where we will all die slowly and painfully instead.
I am asking you to help me as a father to father, and save our lives. I await your reply
Public figures, Help Refugees, Letters Live and Citizens UK today called on David Cameron to save children trapped in Calais 'jungle'.
An unprecedented coalition of 145 well-known figures from cinema, television, theatre, art, business, sport and literature as well as Help Refugees, Letters Live and Citizens UK today publish an open letter to David Cameron calling for urgent action to save the #childrenofcalais, and invite the public to READ, SIGN AND SHARE here:
A full list of signatories and the text of the letter is below.
Jude Law, Shappi Khorsandi, Idris Elba, Helena Bonham Carter, Richard Branson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Richard Curtis, Stephen Fry, Helena Kennedy, Gary Lineker, Phillip Pullman and Tom Stoppard are among the list of names which represent the best of British talent and the arts coming together to urge the Prime Minister to step in and allow unaccompanied children living in the Jungle to be reunited with their families in the UK.
They say in the letter: “This is a humanitarian crisis that needs to be acknowledged as such and it is imperative that we do everything we can to help these innocent and highly vulnerable refugees, especially the minors, as swiftly as is humanly possible.”
They are seeking to draw attention to the plight of the 291 unaccompanied children in the Jungle who have a legal right to join family in the UK, and are stuck in a dangerous bureaucratic limbo with the imminent demolition of the Jungle on the horizon.
On Monday 22 February, the French authorities are due to demolish the southern part of the ‘Calais Jungle’ which would destroy the temporary homes of over 3,000 people. This section of the camp is predominantly occupied by unaccompanied children and families. A census conducted on Monday by Help Refugees found 440 children living in this section of the camp, 291 of which are unaccompanied. Public figures are urging David Cameron to intervene to ensure that refugee children are protected.
Citizens UK has identified hundreds of unaccompanied minors in Calais who have valid legal claims to have their asylum applications processed in the UK. The first of these cases was heard in the UK Courts last month; the court ruled that the children should legally be reunited with family in the UK while their asylum cases were processed. Citizens UK have already largely identified, screened and begun to process the minors in question.
The letter is open for the public to sign at: http://www.refugees-welcome.org.uk/childrenofcalais/
Jude Law said: “Last week I visited the camp, and met some of these unaccompanied children who have no choice but to endure the horrific conditions of the Jungle. These are innocent, vulnerable children caught up in red tape with the frightening prospect of the demolition of the Jungle hanging over them. David Cameron and the British Government must urgently work with the French authorities to alleviate this humanitarian crisis.”
Lliana Bird and Josie Naughton of Help Refugees said: “These children have already suffered severe trauma in their home countries and have risked their lives in dangerous sea and land journeys just to reach their families in the UK. Our Government must intervene to expedite the process to reunite them with their loved ones and help bring an end to their suffering and ensure those that remain in France are receiving adequate care. The bulldozing must be prevented until assurances are given that this will happen.”
Simon Cuff at Citizens UK said: “The Jungle should not exist. Clearing it is important work – but as the bulldozers move in the children living there must not be forgotten. Those with rights to be with their families in the Britain should be reunited with them, those without the right to the UK should receive specialist support and care from the French. Not chased off by police in riot gear.”
“We’re hugely grateful to all the public figures who’ve stood up and stepped out to help protect these refugee children. There is no time to lose to reunite them with their loved ones before the demolitions begin in earnest. Help Refugees UK are doing an amazing humanitarian job on the ground, we’re working to help people access their legal rights - but this should not be falling to charitable organisations in the first place. Governments need to get in there, bring order to the chaos and create safe legal routes to protect people.”
Liz Clegg, of the unofficial women and children’s centre said: “We are horrified that the French Government have chosen to take this action and clear the southern part of the jungle in Calais, where the majority of families and children are presently living. This includes hundreds of unaccompanied children as young as 10. The UN, Europe and France itself have clear guidelines with regards to the treatment of minors. We have been in the jungle for six months working with women and children, and not a single representative of the government or main aid agencies have approached us to start identifying who these children are. If the eviction takes place it is likely we will lose contact with many of these children and they will be subjected to further suffering and great danger. We beg the government to hold off with this eviction until appropriate child protection measures are put in place.”
Joe Murphy and Joe Robertson, Artistic Directors of The Good Chance Theatre, said: “No one deserves to live in the jungle, least of all the hundreds of unaccompanied children. Many of them rely on the theatre and other community spaces to make this situation bearable. We must all work together to ensure proper provision is made for them in the event of a large scale eviction.”
HERE IS THE LETTER:
The Prime Minister
10 Downing Street,
18th February, 2016
RE: A call on The British Government to intervene as a matter of urgency in the refugee crisis in Calais and Dunkirk.
The recent announcement by the Calais prefecture to raze the Southern part of the “Jungle” refugee camp in Calais is an act that if allowed to happen, will destroy the temporary homes of over 3000 people including 443 children. Many of these people are amongst the most vulnerable in the camps as this is where the majority of families and unaccompanied minors currently live.
Such an enforced move would uproot again those who have already had to abandon their homes due to war and persecution. The eviction also threatens vital community facilities built and run by the residents and volunteers including a Women and Children’s Centre, the Youth Centre, three mosques, one Orthodox church, three classrooms, the camp’s only library, The Good Chance Theatre, the Legal Centre, the Vaccination Centre and three crucial distribution centres for aid and food. These spaces offer much-needed respite and comfort for all those living in the intensely difficult conditions within the camp.
We, the undersigned, a number of whom have seen first-hand the refugee camps in the last few days, urge the British government to do three things:
1) To create an expedited process for the implementation of Dublin III’s family reunion provisions so that all minors who are currently residing in the camps in Calais and Dunkirk with family connections in the UK are able to reunite with their loved ones with immediate effect.
2) To ensure that those minors who have no legal right to come to the UK are protected and supported within France and that the French child protection process is also expedited to afford them the protection they are
3) To persuade the French authorities that the decision to destroy further parts of the camp in Calais is postponed until all the minors currently residing there are either given child protection within the French system or enabled to reunite with their loved ones in Britain.
We believe the above actions are the absolute minimum that the British government should be taking to alleviate the suffering of the refugees in Calais, and must be made an urgent priority. The British charitable organisations, Help Refugees and Citizens UK, have already largely identified, screened and begun to process the minors in question. This is a humanitarian crisis that needs to be acknowledged as such and it is imperative that we do everything we can to help these innocent and highly vulnerable refugees, especially the minors, as swiftly as is humanly possible.
Letters Live, Help Refugees, Citizens UK, The Good Chance Theatre, and the following signatories...
Sir Christopher Bland
Claire Van Kampen
Frank Cottrell Boyce
Helena Bonham Carter
Helena Kennedy QC
Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg
Kirkland Newman Smulders
Dame Kristin Scott Thomas
Philippe Sands QC
Sir Richard Eyre
Russell T Davies
Sir Tom Stoppard
Summary note - Evictions in the Calais JungleNext Tuesday there will be a hearing in the court in Lille regarding the proposed eviction of the southern half of the refugee camp known as the Calais ‘Jungle’.
It has been estimated that the eviction notice will affect around 3400 men, women and children, the majority of whom will be left homeless. The French authorities are offering just 700 additional places in the new container camp. The strategy of shipping people out to smaller camps around France has already been seen not to work. These camps are often in remote locations with insufficient facilities and the refugees simply return to Calais unaided, as Calais is where they want to be. The 2500 people living in these remote camps right now only moved there on the basis that they would be returned to Calais at the end of March 2016.
Over the last six months UK citizens have spent hundreds of thousands of pounds and hundreds of thousands of man-hours building shelters, schools and community centers, setting up medical facilities, community welfare and art services. If the eviction goes ahead all this will be destroyed and this incredible investment will wasted; and yet nothing will be achieved. Refugees will still come to Calais - their living conditions will just be so much more inhumane. We have been told that if this eviction goes ahead, the remainder of the camp will be evicted in the following weeks.
The question in point is absolutely not ‘what is the answer to the refugee crisis?’ and it is critical not to be distracted by this - this is a question for national governments and European authorities to decide. The question is - what should happen in Calais while this debate goes on? And, while the Jungle has many faults and issues, at this point in time it is all we have.
The proposed clearance of the southern half of the camp was announced on Friday 12 February when the associations were told that they had one week before the French authorities would issue a 48 hour eviction notice on this land. In contrast to the previous time this happened – when a 100 metre zone by the motorway was bulldozed – it is questionable whether there will be any advantage to be gained by moving the shelters in the southern zone. We have heard that if the clearance of the southern half goes ahead the French Authorities will then also clear the northern half in the coming weeks.
It therefore appears that the only option available is to contest this decision politically.
Our understanding is that, in late 2014, a halt was called to clearances of squats and small camps in Calais city centre until the Jules Ferry centre opened in March 2015 and the land next to it was made available to refugees. At this time the associations working for the refugees in Calais were informed that, if the migrants settled on this plot of land placed at their disposal by the town council, they would not be at any risk of expulsion. It would therefore appear that if they are now evicted this would be a promise broken by French Authorities.
In terms of where they could move to now it has been suggested that 700 paces will be made available in the new container camp. However, we estimate that if the southern half of the camp is cleared this will make around 3000 people homeless as this is the more densely populated half of the camp.
It has also been suggested that the refugees could move to the winter respite centres (CAOs) set up around France by the French Authorities in November. There are currently 2500 refugees staying in these centres and we understand that a further 2000 places will be available. However, this needs to be considered in the context of why there are refugees in Calais.
There are millions of refugees in Europe due to current worldwide events. In this context the 5000 in Calais is actually a small number. Many are here because they have family in the UK, have lived in the UK before and English is their second language. They come to Calais because they want to go to the UK, so they don’t want to be in a centre in Marseille or Nimes. When the winter respite centres were set up in November we were told that they were purely to get through the depths of winter, that there was no obligation to claim asylum in France and that refugees staying in them would be brought back to Calais in March. Without this promise it is unlikely they would have agreed to go there.
The Southern part of the Jungle is the more densely populated half and is also home to most of the families, many of whom have young children. This area also contains many community facilities that have been put in place over the last six months by an army of volunteers, the majority of whom have come over from the UK.
Facilities that will be lost include the women and children’s centre which offers a place of refuge to over 200 women and children, the newly built youth centre, offering support and safety to hundreds of young boys, three mosques, one orthodox church and three schools, in addition to the camp’s library, Jungle Books and the good chance Theatre, the legal centre which offers vital asylum advice and the vaccination centre, which was instrumental in containing the measles outbreak as well as a potential influenza outbreak. In the affected area there are three aid distribution points as well three hot food distribution points, including the Ashram Kitchen, which serve a total of 2000 meals a day.
For people who have lost everything, having no choice but to flee terrible circumstances, it would be the ultimate tragedy for them to now loose for no reason what little comfort we have been able to bring to their lives.
Last Friday, 12th Feb, the Calais Prefecture announced they would bulldoze the entire Southern section of the camp in Calais. They stated that there were 800-1000 refugees living in that zone that was to be evacuated.
Since then our team on the ground in Calais has been working tirelessly with the communities in the camp to identify the best ways to help an already vulnerable population as they are displaced once more. We estimate that there are over 3000 people living in the affected area, of which 400 children, 300 of whom are unaccompanied. We will be able to give you more information on this in the coming days. We expect the French authorities to post an eviction notice in the coming days, giving 24 hours or the bulldozing to commence. Our team are doing their best to prepare for every eventuality in the meantime so that we can be in the best position possible to support the residents of the camp during this distressing time.
Many of you have been asking what the objections are to the impending eviction and the relocation of refugees to the Containers, COA’s (Accommodation and Orientation centers) and CADA (Asylum Seekers’ hosting centres), so we’d like to take this opportunity to respond to these questions.
Whilst Help Refugees commends any move by the authorities to provide better living conditions to refugees in the makeshift camps, we have serious concerns about this move for the following reasons.
1. The area to be cleared is shown in red below. The French authorities have estimated this represents 800-1000 residents. The Shipping Containers accommodate 1500 people in total and there are only 461 available places left. At the moment only 50 people per day are able to move into the containers. At that rate only 350 people (of the 3000+ in the affected area) could be accommodated in the next week (when we understand the forced eviction is likely to take place) leaving a huge number without the option to move into the containers.
2. The CAO/CADA accommodation includes a variety of accommodation options such as caravan parks and disused holiday centres in 92 different locations around France. It is unclear how long this accommodation will be available.
There is currently a maximum capacity of 60 people per day who can be taken to these facilities. At this rate only 420 could be accommodated within the next week and it unclear if there would be enough spaces for all of the people living in the affected area, since the authorities' population estimation appears considerably lower than that of our long-term volunteers who work in the camp every day.
3. Asking so many people to move in such a short space of time is not logistically viable, and not possible to do so in a way that maintains dignity for the refugees themselves.
4. A large scale move/eviction such as the one proposed needs to be handled with care and consideration, to avoid any unnecessary stress and harm to vulnerable people in the camp, including those suffering trauma, already displaced from their homes and cultures, and the hundreds of unaccompanied children.
5. Under Dublin III unaccompanied children have the legal right to be reunited with their nuclear families in the UK. There are believed to be hundreds of children in the camp to who are receiving legal assistance to make this possible but there is now a genuine concern that in the confusion of this hasty eviction these children will be lost in the system.
6. Essential services that volunteer organisations currently provide are set to be destroyed. These include:
Hands vaccination clinic, responsible for thousands of life-saving vaccinations, including most recently 3,159 flu vaccinations, and over 1,000 measles vaccinations, which helped prevent a deadly outbreak.
Hummingbird Clinic, a medical clinic open on the weekends when MSF do not operate.
The Women & Children’s Centre, offering pastoral care and psychological support to vulnerable women, children, and unaccompanied youths. Currently Jules Ferry (the Government run women and children’s centre accommodating approx. 500) have not given us any assurances that they will change their former policy, and start to care for all unaccompanied minors, as the Women & Children’s Centre currently do.
Mental Health Centre, offering essential psychological support and referrals.
Distribution centres for aid: our current understanding is that the new container area will not be providing any distributed aid, such as clothes, shoes etc. Help Refugees & L’Auberge Des Migrants will be allowed to continue to distribute aid, but have to date not been given any proper details of replacement of distribution centres to allow us to continue this work.
Distribution points for food and community cooking facilities. Currently 1000 hot meals are provided daily by Refugee Kitchens and food supplies are given to over 6000 weekly by Calais Kitchens in order to prepare their own meals in community cooking facilities according to their own tastes. The containers provide no cooking facilities do not offer 3 meals a day.
Alongside these essential humanitarian services multiple community kitchens will also be destroyed (including Ashram where they currently serve thousands of meals a day) as well as the Good Chance Theatre. These spaces contribute to a sense of normality, community and psychological well-being for many of the camp residents.
During the course of a meeting with key associations on the ground on Monday, the sous-prefect, Xavier Czerwinski, told our representatives that there was no intention to destroy any of the schools, the church or the three mosques located in the area to be demolished. This was also an assurance made during the previous eviction/land clearance but it was not upheld. We hope that on this occasion that promise will be honoured.
We welcome any further information or communication from the authorities.
The emergency packs will contain water, cereal bars, nuts, dried fruit and a tin of fish. £1 will pay for one bag so please, if you can give just £1 today we can start buying the things we need.
You can donate here https://www.youcaring.com/refugees-in-the-calais-refugee-camp-492878
Produced by The Worldwide Tribe
CALAIS CAMP PLANNED DEMOLITION UPDATE
February 13th 2016
The Help Refugees & L'Auberge des Migrants team.
Thank you to everyone who has got in touch to ask us how they can help following the news that the South half of the Calais camp is set to be bulldozed, a move we strongly condemn (for reasons outlined in our official statement below, and which we will elaborate on further shortly)
Please do rest assured, we are speaking intensely with lawyers at the moment and the communities in the camp, to work towards a best possible solution and a plan of action which can have real achievable results. Things are in motion, and the teams on the ground are working round the clock to gather all the information we need at this point to move forward. We hope to be able to share more news with you as soon as the time is right.
The move will once more uproot those who have already had to abandon their homes fleeing war and persecution. The eviction also threatens vital community facilities, built and maintained by many organisations including Help Refugees, residents of the camp and volunteers.
Facilities under threat include the Women and Children’s Centre which services and offers a place of refuge to over 200 women and children, many of whom are vulnerable; the newly built Youth Centre, offering aid, access to medical care and sanitary services, peer to peer support and safety to hundreds of young boys, in particular many who are unaccompanied.
Three mosques, one Orthodox church and three schools in addition to the camp’s only library, Jungle Books and the Good Chance Theatre, which has recently been shortlisted for the Index Freedom of Speech Award are also due to be lost.
The Legal Centre which offers vital asylum advice and the Vaccination Centre, which was instrumental in containing the measles outbreak as well as a potential influenza outbreak will also be destroyed.
In the affected area there are three aid distribution points as well three hot food distribution points, including the Ashram Kitchen, which serve a total of 2000 meals a day.
These spaces offer much-needed respite and comfort for those those living in the incredibly difficult conditions within the camp.
The prefecture claims that only 800 people will be affected, which according to our team on the ground, is only half the actual population of the affected area.
With no major aid organisations overseeing operations in Calais, it is down to a few small charities and grassroots groups like ourselves and our French partner L'Auberge Des Migrants, powered by a volunteer workforce, to sustain and maintain minimum standards of living in the 'Jungle'.
The lawyers’ claims are backed by Médicin Sans Frontières whose spokesperson said their medical staff had seen horrific injuries including fractures, stabbings, broken bones, head trauma and severe bruising, some of which have been life threatening. Dr Marlene Malfait, MSF Medical Coordinator at the camp clinic, said injuries are now averaging 12 cases a week. Two thirds are alleged to have been inflicted by police.
Centre Juridique have filed eight complaints of police brutality and five against civilian ‘militia’ with the French judiciary, demanding immediate investigation. Although more than 50 cases have been documented, Ms Humbersot confirmed the cases being brought initially were those with the strongest strong supporting evidence. Victims include a ten year old boy who was subject to police violence and a 13 year old who suffered a broken foot and a broken nose.
The Legal Centre, located in the heart of the Calais slum and created following a campaign that gathered more than 50 000 signatories, invites you to a press conference on Friday, February 12th at 11:00 am, at our office, to bring you up to date with the appalling rise of very serious assaults against migrants by both militias and the police. As part of our legal consultations numbering several hundred, numerous complaints and testimonials (more than fifty involving hundreds of victims) were reported. We now intend to hand them over to the authorities as quickly as possible.
During this press conference, we will unveil places and methods used by aggressors together with case examples, as well as the severity of injuries suffered by migrants, as recorded by medical professionals and our team.
Your support will be much appreciated regarding the scale of the assaults, the nature of their authors and the emergency of the situation.
Date: Friday, February 12th 2016
Time: 11:00 am
The Leisure Fayre sleeping bags received in the L'Auberge/Help Refugees Warehouse have been warmly received by the residents in the Dunkirk camp. .The feedback is that these sleeping bags are particularly warm and are thus helping them to get a better night's sleep.
To buy priority items for Calais and Dunkirk to be delivered straight to the warehouse, with an added 20% off please visit www.helprefugees.leisurefayre.com
February 3rd 2016
(L'Auberge Des Migrants)
The French government has hinted about wanting the jungle to be levelled "by March". We need everyone who cares about refugees arriving in Europe to sign the petition below. Thank you so much.
Enough is enough!
The Jungle of Calais is comprised of more than 2000 homes, 2 schools, a women's centre, a youth centre, a library, numerous meeting areas and several places of worship, including a large Christian church. We, European citizens united with all refugees demand that the French government stop the further destruction of this jungle. The refugees had no choice but to build these living places themselves since the French government forced them, in April 2015, to move to this barren piece of land with no amenities whatsoever. They did this with much hard work and resourcefulness and with the contributions of donors from many countries. We cannot accept the destruction of thousands of homes until a truly welcoming solution is found for ALL refugees living there, one which will allow them to ask for asylum in the country of their choice and will treat their request with both care and effectiveness so they can rapidly become productive citizens and contribute their many skills to our society.
Refugees of a war-torn world deserve a decent welcome! If you agree, please sign this petition and share widely.
The Church has now been demolished -despite the Prefect's promise to not touch places of worship.
There was just time for a last minute prayer before the machinery tore in.
The pastor stood by in dignified silence, clutching the remaining cross from the Church roof.
The Pastor who is not prepared to remove the crosses from the Church roof has stated he intends to stand by in dignified silence as bulldozers tear them down.
No warning at all was given before the authorities moved in with their bulldozers earlier today. The mosque was first to be demolished, followed by the church, and then several shelters.
Volunteers are currently doing their very best to relocate shelters. There is enormous anger and puzzlement as to why the charities on the ground were not given advanced warning and at the unnecessary trauma and distress this action is causing to already vulnerable people. Many refugees could be seen screaming at the bulldozer drivers and authority figures "We are peaceful people."
A VALIANT VOLUNTEERING EFFORT
January 31st 2016
Nearly 3000 kind, generous and caring people have registered with L'Auberge/help Refugees and given up their time to volunteer in Calais (and now Dunkirk) over the last few months. In that period, the warehouse has gone from a huge pile of unsorted donations to a systemised and streamlined operation, complete with busy build workshop and bustling kitchens. Each of and every volunteer has contributed to making a difference to the lives of the refugees.
If you'd like to volunteer please email email@example.com - thank you
SATURDAY MEANS PAMPER DAY
January 30th 2016
Saturday at the "Unofficial" Women and Children's Centre in Calais is beauty day. This provision (supported by Help Refugees ) every week is so important for women's mental health and wellbeing. It gives a space to escape the cold and wet for massages and treatments and is transformative.
For more information about the The 'unofficial' Women's and Children's centre the Jungle Calais contact Justine by email firstname.lastname@example.org and like their Facebook page The 'unofficial' Women's and Children's centre the Jungle Calais
To donate and keep these vital services going please visit www.mydonate.bt.com/fundraiser/junglewomencentre
THERE WILL BE MORE HOMES THIS WINTER!
January 27th 2016
After the break-in at the workshop last weekend members of "A Home For Winter" have replaced the stolen tools to enable work to carry on as usual.
The new tools will be kept off site overnight.
Onwards and upwards!
THE BIG CLEAN
January 23rd 2016
On Saturday 23rd January whilst many people waited impatiently for the arrival of the Right Honourable Jeremy Corbyn MP, a superb group of people were busy clearing waste to create more space for shelters in the Calais refugee camp.
Old faces and new teamed together to remove a massive amount of waste. Working side by side with representatives from Acted, were Care4Calais volunteers, The Peckham Pickers, and many individuals who headed over to make it a grand effort. .
ONE LAST PUSH NEEDED TO SHELTER THE CAMP RESIDENTS
24th January 2016
Working with the communities, our co-ordinators on the ground have identified just 230 occupied tents left in the camp that we need to build shelters for. This is an amazing accomplishment as the winter is truly starting to set in and the nights are well below freezing.
Shelter and a place to call your own is so vital for people living in these conditions.
It is thanks to public support that we have come this far!
To help us in get the final people out of frost covered tents and into an insulated shelter please donate and share https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/shelter-building-calais
Photo credit - Rob Pinney
THE BULLDOZING BEGINS
Monday 18th January 2016
This morning at around 8.30am some 40 police in riot gear arrived at the camp and a single bulldozer began clearing an area in the newly designated 'buffer zone'. Due to the incredible efforts of refugees, volunteers and aid workers alike this past week, all occupied shelters and tents in the buffer zone areas had already been relocated to other areas inside the camp. Thus, the bulldozer has little to clear other than discarded items.
The camp remained calm, with everybody going about their business peacefully.
Our focus remains on the well being of the residents of the camp. Last night temperatures dropped to well below zero, and remained at -2 degrees celsius this morning, with tents frosting over. Many of the refugees have shared with us that they couldn't sleep last night due to the severe drop in temperature. We (the joint partnership of Help Refugees & L'Auberge des Migrants along with Acted and the other amazing local charities and grassroots groups on the ground) will do everything we can to help keep them warm, but appeal to others to join our efforts.
You can help right now by buying a warm sleeping bag or thick blankets here. All items will be delivered straight to Calais.
AND THE FOOD GOES ON
January 18th 2016(One Spirit Ashram Kitchen, Refugee Community Kitchen, Calais Kitchens)
Help Refugees is a huge supporter of the kitchens and and food operations in the warehouse. With their help we have been able to keep the hot meals and food parcels going all week. Together we are feeding more then five thousand people every day.
We couldn't do it without public support, though. Over the past week, in addition to many individuals donations, we have received 4 vans full of fruit and vegetables here at the warehouse.
We have also bought the following: 6000 tins of fish; 4 pallets of teabags; thousands of nutritious bars; and lots of water bottles.
As a result all the kitchens have been able to keep delivering high quality food to thousands every day.
GOOD HEARTS AND GOOD WILL TRIUMPH
January 16th 2016 18.30
After working late into the night last night and an early start today, the super human efforts of volunteers and refugees alike mean that the entire 'buffer zone' marked out by the sub-prefecture is now cleared of all occupied dwellings. Everyone has been safely moved and re-settled and the entire relocation process has taken place with respect, dignity and co-operation.
We estimate the relocation we've overseen has involved the movement of around 25 caravans, 300 tents and 247 shelters - however refugees moved many, many more themselves. Total people safely re-homed is approx 1300 including 280 women and 40 children.
The long term volunteers have co-ordinated these efforts and achieved something which at points last week seemed impossible. They are real heroes. As are all the volunteers who came to Calais over the last few days specifically to help with these relocations. This has been a true triumph of good heart and good will.
Tomorrow, we will move the remaining unoccupied shelters (rescuing them for future use) and will continue building. We got an epic 23 shelters built today and are aiming for a further 11 tomorrow to ensure that all those who need one have a roof over their heads. (Total shelters built since the eviction notice currently stands at 70 - hopefully 81 by close of play tomorrow) In the current icy conditions, these shelters are at least affording some basic protection from the elements.
New people continue to arrive in camp (up to 50 and more in Dunkirk) and all need shelter, warmth, food and clothing. If you would like to contribute to the building fund, you can do so here:
If you would like to send warm bedding, clothing or tents direct to Calais you can buy them here: www.leisurefayre.com
HERE IS THE EVIDENCE!
January 15th 2016
This might not look like an amazing photo. But it is evidence of an amazing achievement. It shows empty space - the result of a significant number of homes (small tents and wooden shelters) being moved by teams of refugees and volunteers in advance of the announced bulldozing on Monday. There is still a lot of work to do but we are hopeful of getting most people moved by the deadline. Quite an achievement given the lack of space!
SPIRITS REMAIN HIGH
January 15th 2016
Another extraordinary day working to relocate as many people, tents and shelters as possible is now over. We estimate we managed to successfully move at least 70 shelters. No mean feat when each takes a team of around 10 refugees and volunteers working together to manually move the equivalent of a large garden shed. It's lovely to see the new areas coming to life, with an element of town planning as shelters are arranged to create accessible paths. It almost looks like streets of terraced housing. Everyone will work late into the night tonight and continue tirelessly over the weekend so that if the bulldozers arrive on Monday as indicated, there'll be almost nothing for them to do! Spirits remain high as we continue to make progress.
WE'RE ON TARGET TO RELOCATE EVERYONE
January 15th 2016 10.00am
It snowed last night in Calais. For many refugees this is the first time they'll have ever seen snow, but it was too cold to appreciate the magic. Relocations continue today and we are over the moon to have now moved everyone from the family field/Kurdish area and to see them settling into their new space. We're still on target to complete all relocations this weekend.
MOVING HOUSE HAS NEVER BEEN SO LITERAL!
January 14th 2016 5.00pm
Working with Acted and Médicins San Frontièrs, teams of volunteers have cleared new ground to accommodate tents and shelters, have built over 40 new shelters, moved nearly all the caravans, and have overseen the relocation of more than 100 of the existing shelters.
The refugee communities are mobilized and continue to come up with ingenious methods to carry their shelters from one area in the camp to another. Moving house has never been so literal!
Tents have also been cleared with over 120 moved to new locations. We aim to complete all the relocations and have everyone out of the ‘buffer zone’ by the end of this weekend. No official statement has been given for when the bulldozers will begin to clear this area.
We are optimistic that with everyone working together the transition can be managed smoothly.
HETTIE'S HELP REFUGEE'S VIDEO UPDATE
January 14th 2016 12.40pm
Click image to hear Hettie's report
Teams are currently working around the clock to try and ensure that those who will be affected by the reduction of the camp are provided for in the best way possible.
There is a desperate shortage of TENTS, sleeping bags and warm blankets, which will be desperately needed in the next week. If you would like to help with this please do so here: http://www.leisurefayre.com/ or if you have stock you can take to Calais please book in on email@example.com
GREAT TEAM EFFORTS TODAY
January 13th 2016 21.25
Great team effort today - 33 shelters moved into the newly prepared camp areas.
Mostly new builds but also relocation of existing shelters. Novel methods for moving house included physically lifting and walking the shelters to a new location, as well as cramming them into the beds of pick up trucks
Our priority has been to help families and women to move first and then to ensure they have enough trusted friends around them to create a community that can look out for one another.
Tomorrow diggers are coming to level the scrubland and we have a relocation team raring to go with the challenge to move the remaining families, the caravans and as many existing shelters as possible.
The team are doing the most incredible job, keeping calm, reassuring any worried refugees with worries of concerns, putting community needs first and maintaining a focus on creating a smooth efficient transition for everyone concerned.
Successful day today!
Volunteers have been out working all day clearing ground, removing abandoned tents and helping refugees to move their shelters and tents away from the threatened zones in the jungle.
And the best news is that it is working.
The French authorities have extended the deadline for moving until Monday so that we have two more days to continue this urgent work.
Fantastic job to all involved!
POWERFUL MEETING ON HUMAN RIGHTS IN CALAIS CAMP TODAY
January 13th 2016 19.30
"These are your wars not ours"
Every week in Calais a meeting is held for community leaders to come together and express what’s on their minds. Today the subject was Human Rights. One of our long term volunteers, Annie, attended and witnessed a beautiful, harrowing and powerful outpouring of emotion.
Also in attendance was a representative from the UNHCR - a rare sighting in Calais as the French have not recognised the area as an official ‘refugee camp’ meaning the UNHCR are unable to provide any aid or assistance.
Question were posed such as "Are human rights and international law for everyone or just for some?"
Another leader wanted to know "Where is the humanity when the police teargas me and hit me and shoot me and let fascists hurt me? All I want is asylum"
And the Syrian community representative summed up the mood when he spoke with great power and emotion saying “Why are we are here? It is not our choice, these are your wars not ours. We are now in the Jungle, we are seen as animals. As humans, our rights are to live peacefully anywhere, yet here they restrict our rights in order to "protect" their roads and borders. A solution can be found if France wanted to find one, but they use us to pressure Britain"
The UNHCR rep could only say that they share the same concerns and the situation needed to be solved at a political rather than humanitarian level.
As they left the meeting, one Syrian man made a desperate final plea “Please if you cannot help us, don't hurt us"
AREA FOR CLEARANCE IDENTIFIED.
January 13th 2016 18.40
This morning we will be pre-fabricating new shelters in the warehouse and getting them to camp by afternoon for the most vulnerable.
Our record for shelters built in one day is 36 – so it’s now all hands on deck to match or beat that number. Once ground is cleared we also hope to manually move existing shelters to the new space. Our priority remains to support all of the residents in the camp, working especially hard to ensure the safety of the women and children in the affected areas.
CONTINGENCY PLANS AND PREPARATIONS FOR MOVEMENT
January 13th 2016 08.00
Many of the refugees in the clearance area have decided they want to move: a group has decided to stay put and peacefully resist.
We don't really know what the deadline is or when the area will be cleared: the three days may have started Monday, or yesterday, and may be extended if the authorities feel people on the ground are doing 'enough'. So all we can do is work as hard as possible and contingency plan for whenever the next stage begins.
There are lots of rumours about the containers. To the best of my understanding (having been told three completely different things as fact yesterday!) the refugees in the clearance area have not been offered places in the containers and have not refused those places.
Yesterday's priority was mostly clearing land ready to site shelters and caravans, and preparing new shelter packs to go up today. The first 6 new shelters were built, too.
The plan for today (Wednesday) is:
- clear more areas ready for relocations
- build new shelters- 6 already loaded on the van and ready to go, and a team, flatpack shelters UK, is arriving with 20 prefab shelters today too.
- relocate existing shelters- where possible. Many have been extended or adapted and are difficult to move, but those that can be are going to be moved by refugees as soon as land is clear to move them to.
- begin to move caravans to the new sites.
Image courtesy of Refugee Voices
What you can do to help
Any experienced build team volunteers please come and help. We need to get new shelters built and existing shelters moved for some very vulnerable people. No one on site has any time for inductions (sorry) so what we need is people who know the current build process. If you can go and help please, please do.
Those of you reading this who want to help but have not previously volunteered on the build team can still contribute.
We need funds to help us continue building. Whatever you can afford, however little, will make a difference. Running out of nails or tarp at this point would be a disaster.
The warehouses need 4-8 man tents, good warm blankets (military style boiled wool mix or polar fleece ideally as they are the warmest) and 4 season sleeping bags. It will be impossible to move all the 500-odd shelters affected, so many people will have to go back into tents, sadly.
TOM RADCLIFFE OUTLINES YESTERDAY'S EVENTS
January 12th 2016
HEARTBREAKING EVENTS IN CALAIS TODAY - Captured by artist Niki Groom
January 11th 2106 21.10
"The mood in the camp suddenly shifted and it was then I noticed the police. Refugees were asking us what was happening and we didn't know either. It turns out the camp elders were talking to the authorities and there was a government official in the camp. There were rumours about an area needing to come down, then we heard some restaurants needed to move by 2metres. Rumours rumours.
I took myself away and just drew the scene in front of me.
I don't know how they had shut everything out but they had.
Major conversations were happening in tents close by about a large part of the camp being bulldozed and they we oblivious. Thank goodness.
These poor children are already homeless but have made a part of their jungle their own, but even that is about to change." - Niki Groom
CAMP RESIDENTS SPEAK OUT
January 11th 2016 20.50
CALL TO ACTION
January 11th 2015 16.55
Our teams are now asking for HELP.
VOLUNTEERS....if you have already volunteered in the past with Help Refugees / L'Auberge Des Migrants or have experience on the ground, we need your help please. If you can go to Calais the next week, and can spend 3 days or more there, please email Eamonn Maguire on firstname.lastname@example.org - It's important you have volunteered with us already in the past, please, as our teams will have no time to do the necessary inductions/ training that we normally would do.
DONATIONS are needed now more than ever. Please donate to the shelter building fund here https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/shelter-building-calais
January 11th 2015 16.30
Acted and L'Auberge des Migrants are continuing their ongoing negotiations with authorities in regards to the news of the Calais camp move this morning (see previous posts). Our latest understanding is that if we show a concerted and visible effort to start relocating people now then an extension to the 3 day window may be granted, although it is not yet clear exactly what the parameters are on this.
In the meantime our teams on the ground continue to liaise closely with the community leaders within the refugee camp to ensure the residents are made fully aware of the plans, and of their options.
There will be a follow up report from the community leaders to give us the feedback of their communities to this latest news at 7pm tonight.
For the meantime it's clear that we will need many more supplies imminently, so please do continue to buy the goods by clicking here to purchase sleeping bags, tents and blankets from www.leisurefayre.com - They are desperately needed and will be automatically delivered to Calais/ Dunkirk
We will have an update regarding volunteers wishing to help shortly
JOINT STATEMENT FROM SUPPORT GROUPS DUE BY END OF DAY
January 11th 2016 14.50
There will be a united message sent out from the major organisations on the ground (including Acted, L'Auberge des Migrants, Help Refugees and others) by the end of the day.
January 11th 2016 14.26
Negotiations are happening as we speak in Calais and we are very much hoping there will be a sensible resolution to the planned move announced today. We will let you know as soon as we hear back.
So....the advice from the ground is "please don't panic or do anything just yet." We may need your help, so if you could try to be ready if we put the call out that would be the most important thing at this point. If you have sleeping bags, tents (especially large ones) and time off in the next few days then please do stand by for further notice.
But at this point we ask that you please don't just drive down to Calais- as a huge influx of people may cause more chaos and distress unnecessarily.
We will have further information for you shortly, but at this point the most important thing is for the camp to remain calm. If people are contacting you asking you how they can help please share this information. Thank you all so much.
BREAKING NEWS: Our Calais teams have just found out we have only three days (including today - 11/01/2016) to move and relocate approximately 2,000 refugees, including over 300 women and 60 kids, as the French government bulldoze a significant section (nearly 1/3) of the entire Calais camp, a much larger area than the associations on the ground have been previously told about. The area proposed includes approx. 500 shelters we, and other aid groups have built. Our volunteers are simultaneously dealing with the fact that today we are allowed a one-off 24 hour period to get aid to the 3,000 people in Dunkirk.
Given this timescale we estimate that will now only be able to move 1 in 10 people/ tents/ shelters in time, the rest will be destroyed, a huge waste of resources, supplies, and time, not to say how traumatising this will be for already vulnerable people.
Philli Boyle, Help Refugees' Calais manager says:
"We are devastated to find out we have less than three days to relocate the residents, having been promised much longer by the authorities. Our focus will be on safely moving the women and children, but we will do everything we can to help as many of the people as possible in the limited time we have. We had really hoped to be able to move people (many of whom are already so traumatised by their experiences in the countries they have fled from) in a way that would maintain as much dignity as possible, and reduce stress, however this has now been taken out of our hands given the incredibly limited time we now have."
Any press who would like further details please get in touch: email@example.com