Saturday, August 29, 2015

Photos and story about the Calais Refugees Jungle Camp August 2015

Calais Refugee Jungle Camp

The Calais Refugees Jungle Camp is an encampment in Calais where thousands of refugees are currently residing.  The refugees are from countries as far away as Syria, Afghanistan, Kurdish Iraq, Sudan, Eritrea and Ethiopia. These refugees have escaped danger in their home countries and fled to Europe to find a new home in which they can secure a safe future for themselves and their families

After weeks of shouting at the television, complaining against the inaction of the politicians to find a solution to the refugee crisis in Calais, and annoyed with the abusive rhetoric spewing from the orifices of rent-a-mouth news columnists, my wife and I decided we should get in contact with the local charitable associations in Calais and find out what out what we could do to help.  I journeyed down to Calais from Ormskirk in August and spent ten days volunteering on the ground.  While in the Jungle, I was aware that this, for the many people taking refuge in the camp, was a place they considered home, albeit temporarily, and I was therefore reticent about filming in the environ.  Before using my camera, I asked and received permission from the subjects in the photos.  Click here to see the photo albums in the Calais Refugee Jungle Camp collection on Flickr.

Calais - people to people - Solidarity - Action from the UK

If you want to donate food, clothes, money or volunterer your time to help the men, women, boys and girls in the Calais Refugee Jungle Camp, please join the Facebook group Calais - People to People Solidarity - Action from UK

These men, women and children have fled from war zones, dictatorship, famine and fear.  Yet, this as far as the vast majority of those in the camp will get in the foreseeable future.  None have immigration papers, few are on the track to receiving Asylum in France and the British authorities are spending millions of Euros building defences to keep them out of the UK. The refugees are stuck in limbo; no country wants them and the French and UK authorities don't know what to do with them. 

This is not a Refugee Camp in the proper sense of the term.  There is no Oxfam, no Red Cross, no Red Cresent and no UNHCR. There is no governmental agency providing shelter and healthcare.  There is no formalised food or clothing rationing system, no formal education for the children in the camp.  There are no entry and exit controls.  There are no child safety protocols in place to protect the children living in the camp.  There are no protocols in place to protect the women in the camp from sexploitation.  The men in the camp, who once enjoyed useful occupation, are now idle and desolate, unable to work and unable to provide for their families.

However, life goes on.  Everone struggles in the camp to find food, keep warm and dry and stay clean and healthy.  There are three local charitable associations doing what they can to provide food, clothing and materials to build shelters.  Foreign charitable donations of clothing and food are starting to flow to these associations, but the local volunteers, many of whom are elderly, are worn out by their valiant efforts.  These volunteers are overwhelmed by the needs of the refugees in the camp.  They have little or no support from government.  There is no central administration and no formal infrastructure to ensure sufficient funding of basic services and no transparent and equitable needs based plan to ensure a just distribution of food, shelter and clothing.  The minor wounds and basic healthcare needs of the refugees on the camp are catered for by the voluntary organisation Medicines Du Monde (Doctors of the World). This group
desperately requires more funds and materials to maintain the service level it currently provides.  I heard tell on the camp that the Medicines Du Monde service is being curtailed due to a lack of funds come September 2015.  This will be a tremendous loss to those who need emergency healthcare on the camp.

This refugee crisis deserves the full attention of the UK and French governments and the EU in order to allocate sufficient resources to deal effectively with the needs of these refugees.

Once again, if you want to donate food, clothes, money or volunterer your time to help the men, women, boys and girls in the Calais Refugee Jungle Camp, please join the Facebook group Calais - People to People Solidarity - Action from UK

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