Post date: 31-Aug-2016 13:44:49

A new temporary camp, built by Medicines Sans Frontiers (MSF) to international humanitarian standards opened today in Grand Synthe, a small town with a population of 20,000 near Dunkirk. L'Auberge/Help Refugees have been working closely with MSF in Calais and Dunkirk and are involved in helping to facilitate the move.

Residents from the old camp will gradually move in over the next few days and will at last have access to an acceptable level of basic amenities. Everyone will be in a shelter with solid walls and a lockable door. Shelters are laid out in an organised way which means that fire safety will be improved and it will be easier to carry out targeted, dignified distribution of aid, especially for vulnerable people.

Conditions in the old camp have been appalling. It’s set on a flood plain, meaning the entire site is permanently waterlogged and thick with mud. Everyone lived in tents throughout the winter (including a significant number of families with very young children) and unfortunately we were not allowed to construct shelters to improve living conditions. There were few water points and insufficient waste clearance and toilets to accommodate the 2000 people living there.

The new camp will not be managed by MSF. Instead a group who have been supporting us in Calais for a number of months, Utopia 56, will take over camp management. We are working with them to help on a number of aspects; our teams have built shelters and distribution points; our warehouse will supply aid to stock the distribution points and we aim to provide 20-30 volunteers per day to ensure the smooth running of all operations. We have already made up 1800 welcome packs which will be distributed to people on their arrival at the new camp and purchased a padlock for every shelter.

The opening of the new camp this week is a stark contrast to the scenes we are seeing in Calais. We recognise this as a very positive and ground-breaking step taken by the local authority in Grande Synthe. They have acknowledged the basic human rights of the people within the camp and are striving to restore dignity to those in need.

We look forward to seeing refugees who have endured a terrible winter having access to better living conditions, and we look forward to working on other ways to bring necessary services to them.

What can you do to help at this stage?

We have already been sending aid and volunteers to Dunkirk for many months. With the opening of the new camp, the demands on our operations are increasing and your support with both physical donations and volunteering is more crucial than ever.

DONATIONS URGENTLY NEEDED: Sleeping bags, roll mats and men's underwear. Email for more details and to book a drop off slot.

Note: The new camp will have controlled entry and you won’t be able to deliver donations directly or distribute yourselves.

All donations must go to the Calais warehouse first.

VOLUNTEERING: Please email if you would like to volunteer with us/L’Auberge Des Migrants in our partnership with Utopia 56. Please note that volunteer roles will be appointed on a daily basis based on most urgent requirements and there is no guarantee on where you will be based or the tasks you will be required to undertake.


Monday 7th March 2016