Calais : helping migrants find their dignity on French soil

Published on Thursday 30 June 2016

SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL’s first intervention in France.
French NGO SOLIDARITÉS INTERNATIONAL has answered a call from Médecins du Monde (Doctors of the World) to provide more than 3,000 migrants currently living on a former junkyard near Calais with a dignified and sufficient access to drinking water, sanitation and hygiene. Our organization has been working for 35 years on the most severe humanitarian crises, and this intervention on French soil is a first. It is also proof that the urgency of the situation is unprecedented.

A few figures to highlight the issues:

Today, less than 300 km from Paris, in the heart of Europe, 3,000 people are living in makeshift shelters on a plain called La Lande, and nicknamed “The New Jungle”, 7 km from Calais. A slum on 45 acres of government land, beside a day care centre:

•    Only 3 water taps, 50 showers and 26 toilets for 3,000 people, whereas international standards would reuire a latrine for 20 people, a water point for 250 and 15 litres of water per person per day.
•    Less than one meal per day per person
•    Some 50 children playing in garbage
•    No access to the most basic human needs…

“No other choice but to act”

Solidarités is answering an appeal launched by Médecins du Monde and has decided to act alongside Secours Ctholique/Caritas and Islamic Relief France to respond in a collective way to the growing needs of people from Sudan, Eritrea, Afghanistan, etc.

“When confronted with the urgency of such needs on location, we had no other choice but to act,” says Thierry Benlahsen, Solidarités International’s Emergency Response Team leader. “We did not expect to see such a catastrophic situation in France. In refugee camps where our teams work every day, whether formal (South Sudan, Cameroon…) or informal (Lebanon…), we make sure the minimal standards in terms of living conditions are respected: one latrine for 20 people, a water point for 250, and 15 litres of water per person per day. That is unfortunately far from being the case in a slum that has grown extensively in the past few weeks.”

A dignified access to drinking water, sanitation and basic hygiene

Through its expertise, Solidarités International is committing itself to provide migrants with a dignified access to water, to basic hygiene and to sanitation. Our teams will be distributing hygiene kits, water containers (barrels and jerrycans) to keep water, and building sanitation blocks that include shower spaces and toilets.

The approach is part of a collective and complementary humanitarian response brought by four humanitarian organisations involved in actions abroad that address natural disasters, epidemics and conflict.

“After several very positive experiences working with Médecins du Monde Spain on Ebola and with Médecins du Monde France in Nepal, this new common initiative makes a lot of sense for us,” says Jean-Yves Troy, Solidarités International’s Managing Director. “The fact that four emergency humanitarian avtors are forced to intervene of French soil shows how exceptional the situation is.”

> Press contacts :
Paul Duke (on the field) / Tugdual de Dieuleveult (headquarters in Clichy)
Tél. 07 60 32 47 04 – 06 64 92 50 37