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November 22nd 2016 – November 29th 2016
After the situation for refugees in Greece seemed to be stabilizing because of the organization of the military camps the “jungle of Calais” caught our attention. The jungle is a big refugee camp in Northern France which has existed for over a Year. Most of the refugees there try to go to Great Britain since they have family members living there already.
Because of the improvement in Greece and the worsening of the situation in Calais, we decided to do our next mission in Calais. Originally Sarah udn Julia wanted to start at the end of October/beginning of November but that was exactly the time the clearing was announced. So we decided to wait and see if the situation changed. At the end of November we finally started, with a fully packed car and trailer provided by Franz Gugler from the Dens Lap company. Big thank you again! This way we could bring a lot of needed products to France. We were in touch with the organization “care4Calais” in advance and cooperated with them on the ground. We soon observed a big change of the jungle. The new tasks of the volunteers are supplying the refugees, sorting and transferring donations, as well as accompanying the people to court. After the clearing of the jungle, a majority of refugees was brought to CAO`s (centres for orientation) or other camps close to Calais, like the camp in Dunkerque. It is important to stay in touch with the people and support them.
On our second day in Calais we contacted the camp in Dunkerque, where the focus was on basic supply. The camp is located half an hour drive from Calais and there are about 1200 people living there at the moment, a lot of families and children. The people are from Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Eritrea, Somalia, Armenia and other east-african countries. The majority are Kurdish. In the camp they live in small cabins and there is a womens centre, a childrens area, a german kitchen which provides warm meals twice a day. The work in the camp is based on voluntary work. We brought parts of our donations to the womens centre and other products we bought from the store like flashlights and hygiene products. Flashlights are especially important because the cabins have no lights and no windows. We bought 150 flashlights to offer at least a little source of light. Considering that it gets dark around 5pm until 8.30 am in the morning it is obvious people need more light. Women and children are scared of leaving their cabins in the dark which is why we brought over 200 adult diapers to the women centres, besides baby diapers. It was brought to our attention that it is simply to dangerous to go to the toilet alone at night, which was very shocking to us.
In addition, the cabins easily get mold-infested because they are not really water proof. Together with other volunteers we were able to help at a project cleaning the cabins from mold. The cabins are very small and many people live in one cabin. During wintertime it is very cold and wet so mold can easily spread out and become a big medical risk. Despite the difficult situation we were excited by the great people we worked together with in the camp. Besides the acute help it was important to us to get an overview of the situation in Calais and Dunkerque in order to coordinate further missions. The next team will start on Dec. 27th right after Christmas and we are anxious to see how the situation has changed until then.