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Calais statement – promises broken, destruction begins

Today in the Calais camp hundreds of riot police were present, carrying guns and detonating tear gas canisters which affected men, women, children (and BBC journalists), some which caused fires to start all across camp.

Many refugees who had come to France to escape genuine war zones lost their belongings and homes again today.

The morning began with 55 CRS vans pulling up and unloading hundreds of riot police. Bulldozers and water cannons were lined up outside camp and teams from the Prefecture began to systematically destroy shelters using mallets and chainsaws.

The police formed a human shield preventing refugees from collecting their valuables and used tear gas to repeatedly drive back residents as they dismantled occupied and unoccupied homes. More tear gas was used to force additional residents to evacuate their homes and the structures were then torn down preventing them from being able to gather their personal affairs.

Our teams on the ground spent their time grabbing fire extinguishers to contain the burning shelters and washing the eyes of children caught in the tear gas, as well as trying to hand emergency supplies to refugees leaving the camp, many confused as to where to go.

It was confirmed in French court last week that despite Help Refugees census finding 3,455 people there are only 1156 alternative accommodation places currently available in Calais and throughout Frances, leaving a deficit of around 2,299

The French government have not since informed us that they have found more spaces, to accommodate the total number of people they are evicting from the Southern part of the camp.

In a press conference last week the Prefect assured journalists that the dismantling of the Southern section of the ‘jungle’ would be gradual, humane and respectful of the dignity of the people living in the camp. The Minister of the Interior, Bernard Cazenove reiterated this insisting the approach would be humanitarian. The lawyer from the Prefecture at the hearing last Tuesday said that the two key reasons for evacuating the Jungle were for 1) the dignity of refugees and 2) their security. The scenes of panic we witnessed today were a far cry from these principals.

The wellbeing of each and every one of the residents of the camp continues to be our main priority but of course, at this distressing time and as night falls we are especially concerned for the 423 unaccompanied children living in the Jungle.

In the course of the confusion and panic sweeping through the camp after the events of today we fear that these vulnerable young people will scatter leaving them without the basic primary care our network of volunteers gives them and adding them to the 10,000 child refugees already ‘missing’ in Europe according to Europol. Many of these children have family members is the UK.

We call on this situation in France to be declared an official humanitarian crisis so that experts can come to assist and that already traumatised people are offered responsible care rather than additional trauma.

We also call on the British and French governments to expedite the Dublin III process allowing those unaccompanied refugee children in Calais with immediate family in the UK to come to Britain to reunite with them.

Calais camp demolition begins (1)

Calais camp demolition begins (3)

Calais camp demolition begins (4)

 


We would not be able to do our work without your support and kindness. Many of the refugees we help are fleeing the conflict zones of Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. Others are trying to escape political oppression in countries like Eritrea. All are human beings like us. As well as providing immediate physical assistance, we want to help refugees maintain their dignity.

Please click through if you would like to find out more about our work in Calais, Dunkirk, Lesvos, Samos, Idomeni and other locations. If you would like to know how you can help refugees, please check out our Get Involved section where you can find out how to fundraise for us and how to make a donation. Thank you!

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We will appeal Calais Court verdict: DEMOLITION TO GO AHEAD

We are devastated to announce that this afternoon the court ruled against us and have upheld the decision to demolish the Southern section of the ‘Jungle’.

We will be appealing this decision immediately.

We are shocked that this verdict will strip refugees of their homes once again without adequate alternative provisions. Our census revealed 3455 refugees will be evicted and it was stated in court that only 1156 alternative places are currently available across France.

Our concerns particularly remain with the 305 unaccompanied children who will be evicted from their living quarters without proper assessment, safeguarding or suitable alternative provisions.

As a result of our court action it has been agreed that social spaces can remain. We understand these to include Churches, Mosques, schools, the library, the women and children’s centre and the youth centre.

We will do everything in our power to assist the refugees and minimise their trauma.

We have had no confirmation of when evictions and bulldozing will begin.


We would not be able to do our work without your support and kindness. Many of the refugees we help are fleeing the conflict zones of Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. Others are trying to escape political oppression in countries like Eritrea. All are human beings like us. As well as providing immediate physical assistance, we want to help refugees maintain their dignity.

Please click through if you would like to find out more about our work in Calais, Dunkirk, Lesvos, Samos, Idomeni and other locations. If you would like to know how you can help refugees, please check out our Get Involved section where you can find out how to fundraise for us and how to make a donation. Thank you!

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Liz from the Women and Children’s Centre – ‘the Pied Piper of the Jungle’

Please click through to our Facebook page to read this great Times article about Liz Clegg. We are really proud to support Liz and her work running the Women and Children’s Centre. You can read more about the Centre here.

You can sign our open letter asking David Cameron to intervene here: https://speakout.38degrees.org.uk/campaigns/refugees-calais-open-letter

You can donate to support Liz in her incredible work here: https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/junglewomenscentre

Liz Clegg dubbed Pied Piper of the jungle by The TimesLiz is one of the most inspiring women we've ever met. We are so…

Posted by Help Refugees on Wednesday, 24 February 2016


We would not be able to do our work without your support and kindness. Many of the refugees we help are fleeing the conflict zones of Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. Others are trying to escape political oppression in countries like Eritrea. All are human beings like us. As well as providing immediate physical assistance, we want to help refugees maintain their dignity.

Please click through if you would like to find out more about our work in Calais, Dunkirk, Lesvos, Samos, Idomeni and other locations. If you would like to know how you can help refugees, please check out our Get Involved section where you can find out how to fundraise for us and how to make a donation. Thank you!

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Watch Liz from the Calais Women and Children’s Centre read her letter to Jamil

If you want to know why the volunteer aid workers in the Calais ‘Jungle’ make such a difference, how they connect with the vulnerable refugees, including the 450+ children and why we are fighting in the French courts for the authorities to put proper systems in place for the unaccompanied minors, you only have to watch this incredibly moving letter read by Liz Clegg from the Women’s and Children’s Centre to one of the kids in her charge at the Letters of Note event at Good Chance Calais on Sunday.

Full text of letter below – but please watch the video to truly understand why we must do more for the children. We have a moral duty to help.

You can sign our open letter asking David Cameron to intervene here: https://speakout.38degrees.org.uk/campaigns/refugees-calais-open-letter

You can donate to support Liz in her incredible work here: https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/junglewomenscentre

Jamil –

I’ve packed another bag for you tonight. I’ve managed a really good sleeping bag this time, it’s cold. I remembered the bin bags. Please use them – it will help keep you a bit dryer. There’s two pairs of socks and torch in the side pocket. I’ve put in some snacks and five euros. Please don’t lose your phone again.

Jamil, I’m scared. I’m scared I’m going to lose you. The forms they’ve given me don’t have a box for you, and no one’s prepared to change this. You have to clever in this game Jamil, you have to talk the talk, understand complex law. They don’t want to hear about our lives, our daily routine of keep you dry and fed and out of trouble. They’re not interested in the nightly ritual of watching you leave, ‘to try’ get to the UK, let alone acknowledge the panic I feel because I may never know what came of you. Or worse still you join the growing list of those who died trying.

Jamil, I beg you please listen to me – don’t get into the refrigerated lorries, wait for something safer. Massoud was older, he still died. I can’t promise to solve this, but I’m trying.

Jamil – I love you dearly, never finished, and I will fight to the bitter end to keep you safe.


We would not be able to do our work without your support and kindness. Many of the refugees we help are fleeing the conflict zones of Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. Others are trying to escape political oppression in countries like Eritrea. All are human beings like us. As well as providing immediate physical assistance, we want to help refugees maintain their dignity.

Please click through if you would like to find out more about our work in Calais, Dunkirk, Lesvos, Samos, Idomeni and other locations. If you would like to know how you can help refugees, please check out our Get Involved section where you can find out how to fundraise for us and how to make a donation. Thank you!

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Calais Updates – Updates throughout the day on the Calais camp court case

We will do our best to keep you updated on today’s court case challenging the French authorities’ decision to demolish part of the Calais refugee camp that is ‘home’ to over 3,000 people.

You can read our statements on the eviction here and here. Yesterday we shared the findings of a camp census we undertook with l’Auberge des Migrants – we found 423 unaccompanied minors in the camp. Read more about the census here.

You can join the thousands of people calling on David Cameron to ask for a delay to the camp demolition and to do more to protect the unaccompanied minors here


Tuesday 23rd February, 16:48

CALAIS UPDATE – VERDICT POSTPONED – WHAT HAPPENED IN COURT

The hearing has completed. Court sat for around 1hr 45 minutes.

The judge did not rule. We do not have a confirmed time for the verdict but it is believed likely to be tomorrow.

Defence confirmed they only have 1156 alternative accommodation places currently available in Calais and throughout France. (details below)

The Associations census data shows need to accommodate 3455 people from Southern section of camp imminently- and a further 2042 in the Northern section which Prefecture have stated they will clear next.

Judge greatly concerned about differing numbers. Said the Prefecture figures were ‘a big problem’. Demanded an explanation for how numbers arrived at.

Prefecture admitted flaws in their methods for assessing numbers, particularly of children, currently in camp. But said they believed entire camp (north and south) to be around 3000 people.

Associations explained census methodology including a tally with water consumption and waste production on site as well as food distribution numbers.

Defence failed to refute the claim that the CAO’s (Centres of Accommodation) would only be available until 31st March.

Defence stated essential services will not be destroyed. We understand these to include the church, the school, the women and children’s centre, the youth centre and the library.

The lawyer for the associations, Julie Bonnier, called for the French authorities to stop the traumatisation of vulnerable people by bulldozing their homes in midst of winter. She also reminded the Judge not to commit the same humanitarian mistake that was made with Sangatte where it was razed, only to leave smaller slums and squats in its place.

Julie Bonnier also reminded the judge that in 2015 the refugees were invited to occupy this space and assured there was no chance of expulsion.

And Bonnier reminded the court that if Centres of Accommodation only available until 31st March, people will simply return to Calais – she asked for a consistency in the services and solutions on offer.

Accommodation places available include:
300 in Jules Ferry and the shipping containers – with 48 places within containers for children (adult supervision to be provided).
56 places in specialised accommodation in Calais and surrounds for children
200 places in ‘heated tents’ for children in Calais camp
200 places in ‘heated tents’ for adults
400 places in centres of accommodation around France

A note from the Associations (not raised in court) – 400 of the 480 places in the ‘heated tents’ are currently uninhabitable. They are flooded, not heated, prone to collapsing in heavy winds (causing one man to have his leg broken) and have no facilities or services for vulnerable children.

We await the verdict with interest.


Tuesday 23rd February, 13:46

CALAIS UPDATE FROM COURT

Court time was set for 2pm, judge has just arrived at 2.40pm. 60 ppl are in attendance. 7 are refugee community reps, 8 are from the associations (including Help Refugees & L’Auberge des Migrants) who filed the case. The rest are journalists. There were around 200 more people hoping to attend. They are now waiting outside.

The judge may not rule today.

We will confirm as soon as we know more.


Tuesday 23rd February, 11:36

CALAIS UPDATE – COACH TO LILLE – JUDGE NAME CONFIRMED

The coach in Calais has loaded (captured on camera by Newsnight film crew) and the teams are on their way to the court case in Lille.

Passengers include over 20 ‪#‎refugees‬ (community spokespeople, women & children) and aid workers.

Our lawyer Julie Bonnier has confirmed the judge as Valérie Quéméner


Tuesday 23rd February, 10:39 

CALAIS UPDATE – JUDGE IN CAMP

The Judge came to camp at 9am, accompanied by the Prefect, Sub-prefect and our lawyer. She spent 20 mins in the main camp and visited the church and the women and children’s centre where she met several unaccompanied minors. She then spent 30 mins in the govt centres incl the containers and Jules Ferry. She has left the site. The case will be heard at 2pm. We will update as soon as know more.


Tuesday 23rd February, 10:06 

Read about Nabila, a pregnant woman in the Calais Jungle who could lose her home tonight if judge rules against delay.

Court hearing commences at 2pm. We’ll keep you updated on events as they happen.

From the Evening Standard

Calais Jungle camp: Nabila is about to give birth – and lose her home

Makeshift homes, schools, cafes, mosques and churches in the Calais ‘Jungle’ migrant camp are to be demolished in the next 48 hours. David Churchill met families facing an uncertain future as the bulldozers prepare to move in.

Please click here to read more.


We would not be able to do our work without your support and kindness. Many of the refugees we help are fleeing the conflict zones of Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. Others are trying to escape political oppression in countries like Eritrea. All are human beings like us. As well as providing immediate physical assistance, we want to help refugees maintain their dignity.

Please click through if you would like to find out more about our work in Calais, Dunkirk, Lesvos, Samos, Idomeni and other locations. If you would like to know how you can help refugees, please check out our Get Involved section where you can find out how to fundraise for us and how to make a donation. Thank you!

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Calais Needs: Items needed as of Monday 22nd February

This week’s list of items needed in Calais by our amazing volunteers, updated Monday 22nd February 2016.

If you wish to donate goods, please email Annie on calaisdonations@gmail.com at least one week before you plan to set off. This will help Annie and our other warehouse volunteers to organise the warehouse and plan for the distribution of goods.

Email Annie to find out more about donation dates. Thank you for your time and support.


The items at the top of the list are needed urgently.

FOOD: we are running VERY LOW on food supplies. Material food donations are much more sustainable and logistically easier to arrange, so if you have funds available and are planning a delivery to the Auberge/ Help Refugees warehouse PLEASE BRING:

  • Food donations more important!!
  • 1l oil
  • 1kg rice
  • 1kg sugar
  • tinned fish (tuna, sardines, mackerel)
  • biscuit packets
  • tinned goods (tomatoes, chickpeas, kidney beans)
  • tea and coffee
  • 750g salt
  • tinned fruit and veg
  • vegetable stock cubes
  • 1l UHT milk
  • onions and garlic and other fresh fruit and veg

Please bring tins with ring pull tops and make sure everything is IN date!

  • Volunteers, especially if you can stay more than a day or two! (if you wish to volunteer, please email volunteerincalais@gmail.com )
  • Building materials – especially pallets!! (if you are bringing any or have any building skills you’d like to put to good use, please email calaisbuild@gmail.com)
  • Blankets and duvets!!
  • Sleeping bags
  • Tents ( 4 man tents or larger)
  • Waterproof warm winter coats and waterproof trousers
  • Backpacks and rucksacks
  • Tarpaulins
  • Camp mats
  • Firewood
  • Fire Extinguishers
  • Wind up/ solar torches and lanterns

 

Clothing:

All

  • Socks and Underwear (men’s, women’s and children’s)
  • Goody bags of hats, gloves and scarves

Men

  • Waterproof walking boots high ankle or trainers size especially sizes 42 and 43
  • Small trousers (size 28 and 30)
  • S + M jumpers
  • Waterproof trousers
  • S + M tracksuit bottoms
  • S long-sleeved tops, jumpers and hoodies

Women

  • Boots/ shoes up to size 39.  No heels!
  • Smaller cup size bras (up to 36C)
  • Warm, Waterproof coats (S + M)
  • Waterproof trousers
  • Trousers (S, M, L) – jeans and tracksuit bottoms
  • Long-sleeved tops, jumpers and hoodies (S + M)

 

Other:

  • Flat pack cardboard boxes (size 60 x 40 x 32.5 or 90 x 60 x 48)
  • Hygiene items: toilet roll, deodorant, baby wipes, shampoo, conditioner, moisturiser, shaving cream, tissues

Please only bring item from this list. We cannot currently accept any other items items.

HOW TO ORGANISE GOODS

Try to concentrate on one or two items as a large amount of one item is much quicker and easier to distribute than a mixed load of many items.

It is very important that goods are clean, pre-sorted and clearly labelled e.g. a box of walking boots size 44, a bag of men’s jeans size 32, or pre-packaged food parcels.

If you want to be a real star then the best box sizes are 60 x 40 x 32.5 or 90 x 60 x 48

HOW TO DONATE

To deliver aid to the warehouse and/or to arrange distribution in the camp with the support of experienced volunteers, please complete this form

If you have any questions, please email calaisdonations@gmail.com


CLICK AND DONATE FOR DELIVERY STRAIGHT TO CALAIS

The wonderful people at Leisure Fayre have made it super easy to get these urgently needed items directly to Calais. Calais urgently needs sleeping bags and blankets.

Go to LesiureFayre, click on the Help Refugees logo to get to our specially selected list of most needed items and make your selection. To get 20% discount and free delivery to Calais, use the login and password provided on the checkout page.

Many thanks to Leisure Fayre for being so kind!

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Experienced volunteers needed in Calais camp

The long term volunteers in Calais are asking for anyone with experience working with us to spare time this coming week, particularly during Monday – Thursday. We all hope that the court case
this Tuesday will rule in favor of protecting the vulnerable and at risk; whatever the outcome we expect it to be an incredibly busy and demanding week. Those who are familiar with the systems and the camp will be crucial in our ability to support the residents during this challenging time. Your patience and flexibility will be hugely valuable.

Most needed items to bring with you:

Backpacks, blankets, sleeping bags, food that can be eaten without cooking (tinned food, dried fruit and nuts etc.), small tents and torches.

Vehicle with a tow bar or a flat bed trailer as a bonus!


CLICK AND DONATE FOR DELIVERY STRAIGHT TO CALAIS

The wonderful people at Leisure Fayre have made it super easy to get these urgently needed items directly to Calais. Calais urgently needs sleeping bags and blankets.

Go to LesiureFayre, click on the Help Refugees logo to get to our specially selected list of most needed items and make your selection. To get 20% discount and free delivery to Calais, use the login and password provided on the checkout page.

Many thanks to Leisure Fayre for being so kind!

Read more

Calais Camp – Total number of residents revealed for the first time – 423 unaccompanied minors

When the French Government announced on Friday 12th February that they would be clearing the Southern section of the Calais camp, they estimated this would involve the relocation of approximately 800-1000 residents to the containers or alternative centres of accommodation in approx 100 locations around France.

Our teams on the ground felt these numbers wildly underestimated the true population of the camp, and concerned that many would be evicted from their homes in the midst of winter, without sufficient alternative accommodation on offer, Help Refugees and L’Auberge Des Migrants began a thorough and methodical census of the entire camp.

We can now reveal total numbers of residents in the Calais camp for the first time.

Our census shows:

  • 5497 Total Residents
  • 182 Family Units
  • 205 Women
  • 651 Children of which 423 are unaccompanied.

The French have stated that once the Southern section of the camp is cleared (3455 residents), they will begin on the North section (2042 residents – including 137 Syrian households).

Our census did not include government run facilities including Jules Ferry (for women and children) and the shipping containers which hold 1500 and have only 300 spaces left.

Our concerns remain with welfare of the unaccompanied minors.

We have had no assurances from the French authorities that they will conduct assessments to determine best interests of these children and ensure proper safeguarding is in place before removing them from the camp and the communities they know and trust.

We urge them to delay the demolition of the southern section of the camp until these needs are met.

Tomorrow afternoon our concerns will be heard at the court in Lille. We will keep you updated on events throughout the day.

Calais census results (3)

Calais census results (2)


We would not be able to do our work without your support and kindness. Many of the refugees we help are fleeing the conflict zones of Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. Others are trying to escape political oppression in countries like Eritrea. All are human beings like us. As well as providing immediate physical assistance, we want to help refugees maintain their dignity.

Please click through if you would like to find out more about our work in Calais, Dunkirk, Lesvos, Samos, Idomeni and other locations. If you would like to know how you can help refugees, please check out our Get Involved section where you can find out how to fundraise for us and how to make a donation. Thank you!

Read more