By: Ben Bano, Phil Kerton
News from those working in Calais is that things have never been so tough. The French 'welcome centres' distributed across the country may have provided a solution for some people, but for those where it didn't, conditions are worse than the Jungle ever was. There are hundreds of refugees, mostly minors, sleeping rough on the streets of Calais and Paris with no access to shelter from the elements or even the most basic sanitation. The only food and supplies they get is what support groups are able to give them.
In Dunkirk the shelters are rotting and overcrowded and earlier in March the police entered one of the nearby smaller camps and destroyed all the refugees' possessions.
If you are able to visit Calais for a day or a week - or longer - to help, or if you can donate money or resources to help feed, clothe and support refugees, those working on the ground would be beyond grateful. They desperately need volunteers, whilst urgent priority donations include sleeping bags, gloves, men's winter clothing (size small), men's underwear and biscuits. You can find out more about volunteering at the large warehouses and requirements for other goods and money at www.calaidipedia.co.uk/how-to-help
Natacha Bouchart, the Mayor of Calais, has issued an Order prohibiting charities from distributing food to refugees in and around the area where the Camp used to stand. This is allegedly to preserve law and order and protect the local economy, but it is clear to the charities working in the area that the Mayor is becoming increasingly more desperate in her attempts to prevent refugees from coming to Calais. In doing so she is acting in a way that contravenes basic human rights. Food distribution does continue in Calais, using different locations daily, and Secours Catholique continues to offer showers.
All involved are continuing to work hard to ensure that refugees' most basic needs are met, and to do their utmost to hold the French government to account.
Thank you for your concern, your prayers and your support.
Ben + Phil, from Seeking Sanctuary
See earlier reports:
ICN 10 March - Charities protest at government's 'reprehensible decision' on child refugees - www.indcatholicnews.com/news.php?viewStory=32104
ICN 18 March - Vatican official visits agencies working with refugees www.indcatholicnews.com/news.php?viewStory=32154
Read more about Seeking Sanctuary here: www.seekingsanctuary.weebly.com