France – Calais

In 2015


In June 2015, less than 300km from Paris in the heart of Europe, 3,000 people fleeing the conflicts in Afghanistan, Sudan, Syria and Iraq were living in makeshift shelters on the La Lande site, 7km from Calais. This grew into a full-blown shanty town on a former 18 hectare landfill site, providing ever-rising numbers of refugees with unfit and undignified living conditions. This was the first time SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL, which has been operating on the ground helping to alleviate some of the worst crises for over 35 years, worked on French soil, which goes to prove the urgency of this unprecedented situation.

Our action

In June 2015, SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL responded to Médecins du Monde’s appeal for help and became involved in the “Jungle”. Building on our expertise, we began helping to provide migrants with dignified and adequate access to drinking water, minimum hygiene and sanitation by distributing hygiene kits and containers for drinking water (jerry cans), as well as constructing sanitary facilities – consisting of toilets and private shower cubicles – which could be accessed 24 hours a day. The mission was closed in November 2015 after SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL’s work had been gradually handed over to Médecins sans Frontières.

Quotes from our archives:

Faced with the urgent needs we had witnessed on the ground, we had no choice but to take action. We hadn’t expected to encounter such a serious situation in France.  In refugee camps where our teams work (South Sudan, Cameroon, Lebanon…) we make sure that minimum living standards are respected: 1 toilet for 50 persons, 1 water point for 250 persons, and 15 litres of water per person per day. Unfortunately, when we arrived, standards were nowhere near this level.

Thierry Benlahsen, SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL Emergency Team Leader


At head office