The original post can be viewed here
Paris is a tough one; it's definitely a hotspot but it's difficult to help without making a tough situation worse.
So below is what we know and how we suggest you help.
There is an official government camp in Paris. It's in the 18th, and you've probably seen photos; it looks like one of those blow up 80s municipal swimming pools where you had to go through an airlock to get in. That's the reception- behind that is a big warehouse building that has been adapted to form a camp.
Refugees can go to the camp and be warm, dry and fed; but are only supposed to stay a few days and then move on to CAOs as asylum claims are processed. But as we all know from Calais it's not that simple.
Many refugees don't want asylum in France, don't trust buses into the unknown or are just scared and unsure of their rights. These refugees sleep on the streets in Paris or in new tent cities springing up on the outskirts. The cycle of these camps being set up and destroyed continues to play out (violently): tolerated for a time and then are cleared- with refugees usually not allowed to collect possessions or shelters (one of the reasons bivvy bags are so important).
The camp lets in around 40 people a day but it is almost completely arbitrary. There can be long queues, and refugees sometimes wait from the very early hours for access, and are turned away. Utopia56 (yes the ones from Dunkirk) work in and around the camp to help refugees there: and need volunteers.
Refugees who don't make it into or who don't want to go to the centre are sleeping rough in the streets but are constantly harassed and moved on by the police. They have shelter and blankets stolen, shoes taken, phones smashed (sound familiar?)
The groups helping have to be very careful as much of the support is verging on illegal under emergency powers; plus Paris is incredibly expensive so they have not been able to set up infrastructure, accommodate volunteers etc. Some are locals who have supported for a long time, some sleep in the vans they use to transport donations round the city.
So what help is happening and how can you help?
There are a lot of French groups who are incredibly active and effective. If you speak French search aide aux réfugiés and there are a series of groups focussing on areas, nationalities, and needs.
Utopia56 and Paris Refugee Ground Support (PRGS) are active on the ground: Both groups are aiming to be hubs that support all of the small groups in Paris. They are being supported by HelpRefugees, L'Auberge des Migrants, Care4Calais, People in Motion, Side by Side, Jungle Canopy and Aid Box Convoy, plus individual donors and small groups. PRGS's tiny team does nightly aid distributions (often distributing until 5am) seven days a week. They have very limited storage space in Paris so they often have to transport stuff as it is needed- piles of discarded aid won't help the situation!
The same groups support the informal camps and refugees on the streets- but with care as they don't want to increase unwelcome police attention.
What is needed?
warm clothes, especially thermal underwear and warm, waterproof jackets; light weight 'walking boots'. For men, women and children, but mostly young, slim, not very well fed men age 12 and up- PRGS finds many unaccompanied minors on the streets. Buy here: https://www.leisurefayre.com/section.…/86100/1/help_refugees or deliver to the calais warehouses.
snug packs- socks, neckwarmer, underwear and gloves. These need to go to the l'auberge/HelpRefugees warehouse.
And finally - If you can support yourself in Paris (there is not the volunteer infrastructure of Calais) there is lots to do for Utopia56 or in the PRGS store room. Contact them:
PRGS: Please contact on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/PRGS.team/ or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Citoyen(ne)s solidaires avec les migrants