- Published on Tuesday, 15 September 2015 07:17
About two months after its intervention in the Calais camp of La Lande among the refugees, SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL noticed a significant deterioration of the living conditions inside the camp. The Technical and Program Quality Department arrived in the field about a week ago.
At the end of June, SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL’s emergency team, along with Islamic Relief France (SIF) and Secours Catholique (Caritas) responded to the call from Médecins du Monde (MDM, Doctors of the World) to support the refugees surviving in the Calais camp, La Lande. To improve the hygiene conditions for the refugees, around 3000 hygiene kits were distributed along with 9 showers divided into three blocks of three throughout the camp and 15 toilets divided into 5 blocks of 3. Nevertheless, after two months, these toilets and showers, suffering from lack of maintenance and excessive use, are sometimes inadequate for the refugees.
Infrastructures are quickly deteriorating
"Two months later, the intensive use of toilets has severely damaged our infrastructures”, says Stéphanie El-Sayed, Water, Hygiene and Sanitation advisor at SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL. She went into the field in early September. “We built emergency facilities: showers and toilets made of waterproof plywood. Even if this material is quite resistant considering the number of people using it and their practices, it quickly deteriorates. There are no less than 3000 people in the camp. This makes it difficult to maintain the facilities in good shape considering the frequency of use and the lack of maintenance regarding the community's infrastructures.”
Waste management, a real challenge
In addition to the normal wear of the facilities, the human factor should also be taken into consideration. “The refugees go to the toilets with bottles of water that frequently fall into the sceptic tank causing it to fill quickly, which makes the toilets unusable. It is a real problem because these toilets need to be discharged more often and because of the sewage that accumulates there, we cannot use a motorpump for the discharge operations. A physical extraction of the bottles will be necessary and the refugees will also have to adopt good practices”, continues Stephanie. However, waste management is not limited to toilets. There is a lack of garbage collection at the camp La Lande. “The rubbish accumulates everywhere and it quickly turns into an unauthorized landfill. We must absolutely install a waste management program in order to avoid the spread of diseases.”
Do not allow the misery to worsen
For all these reasons and because winter is coming soon, making life in the camp even more difficult for the refugees, SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL decided to continue its mission in Calais. The emergency team, led by Thierry Benlahsen, is now ready to continue its program and the support that was initiated last June. “We cannot abandon these people in such deplorable conditions, ensures Thierry Benlahsen. With a growing number of refugees and a lack of infrastructures, including our own, the sanitary situation of the camp is becoming catastrophic. We noticed from the beginning that the living conditions in the camp at La Lande were the same as in the other refugee camps in which we intervene all over the world. With the temperatures dropping, we have to strengthen our humanitarian response in Calais. We must not allow misery to worsen and strike the thousands of people living there. This will require significant resources.”
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