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
Despite the near freezing temperatures (4 degrees) it was all hands on deck in Calais today with huge progress being made for the relocation of approx 2000 people from the '100 metre buffer zone' around the public highways that the Calais Sub-prefecture marked out on Monday.
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.
GREAT TEAM EFFORTS TODAY
January 13th 2016 21.25
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
January 13th 2016 08.30
With the exact date of the forced eviction unclear, our team has been completely focused on working with the communities to identify
the most vulnerable and with preparing everything needed in our building workshop to facilitate the relocation programme.
This morning we will be pre-fabricating new shelters in the warehouse and getting them to camp by afternoon for the most vulnerable.
We have a digger in place to clear ground but desperately still need building supplies, timber etc.
Donations to our building fund can be made here:https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/shelter-building-calais
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.
We understand the focus of the peaceful protest by the refugees will be this Friday
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:
Image courtesy of Refugee Voices
What you can do to help
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.
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 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.
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.
January 11th 2016: 13.10
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
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