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Calais winter appeal

Sunday 22 December 2013

All the versions of this article: [English] [français]

The festive season may bring joy, but not to those who are sleeping out, often in temperatures below freezing, and are suffering constant hunger.

The major of Calais Natacha Bouchart and the sub-prefect have closed most migrant squats. There have been a series of evictions carried out by large numbers of police, and people have been prevented from resettling in other buildings. Most people are now sleeping out in tents. The BCMO (cold weather shelter) only opens, by order of the prefect, when temperatures reach -5 at night, or below 0 during the day. It can only host 150 men, in very overcrowded conditions.

Most migrants in Calais are escaping war and persecution in their countries. They never experienced hunger, or had to sleep out, until they came to Europe looking for protection.

The associations, who have supported the migrants since the closure of Sangatte, either have collapsed or are (being bloody useless) experiencing serious difficulties. Calais migrants are lacking the most essential things, such as food, blankets, warm clothes. They are only getting one meal per day. Clothes distributions are down to one every three weeks, as the volunteers of the vestiaire do not have enough materials for their distributions.

The legal squat in 51 Victor-Hugo, where up to 30 women, their children and the most vulnerable migrants are sheltered, is to be evicted in February: eviction papers have just been served.

The Sudanese jungle has been destroyed, once again. Destructions of tents and heavy police harassment in the Afghan jungle have greately reduced numbers of people sleeping there.

The camp in front of the place of food distribution is threatened with eviction. Over 100 men and boys sleep there, from Syria, Afghanistan, Pakinstan, Iraqi Kurdistan, Egypt and other Arab countries. The Eritrean/Ethiopian camp near the Town Hall is also threatened with eviction, over 70 people.

People desperately need:

- food
- blankets
- sleeping bags
- tents
- tarpaulin
- warm clothes
- hats, gloves and scarves
- waterproof jackets
- shoes
- tea and sugar
- firewood
- toiletries
- and money to buy them

If you have materials to donate, please drop them at 51 Victor-Hugo, or call 06 45 46 59 86, or contact the association SALAM. For large deliveries please contact the manager of the vestiaire, they have a lot of storage space. Marie Christine Descamps The associations are also in need of volunteers, if you have time to spare. Vehicles and drivers are very much needed, to collect and carry firewood, food clothes etc. Thank you very much.

Photos and short video:
- Bienvenue a Calais
- Calais Sept/Oct 2013
- Homeless in Calais