Update on Calais refugee camp

The following update comes from Help Refugees.

We can confirm that the eviction of the Calais camp will begin on Monday. The authorities have devised a system for registering camp residents according to their status, taking into consideration minors, family units, and people with vulnerabilities not covered by either of these categories (medical conditions etc). They have informed the associations that 60 buses, going to accommodation centres across France (called CAOs) will be provided on Monday (3000 people), 45 on Tuesday (2400 people) and 40 on Wednesday (2000 people). If more buses are needed on subsequent days they say this can be arranged.

In addition to all those currently residing in the unofficial Calais camp, residents of the government-run container camp will also be required to leave and go to accommodation centres. As a temporary measure, the containers will be used as a processing centre for unaccompanied minors. The unaccompanied minors will be housed there and processed by French and/or British authorities. We are encouraged by this news as the children will be accommodated while the British authorities take the time to expedite the Dubs amendment, which should bring many of the most vulnerable children, including girls and children as young as 10, to safety in the UK.

The French authorities have confirmed that a group of 40 people will arrive on Tuesday to begin manually dismantling the ‘Jungle’ camp. They say there will be no bulldozers on Tuesday. They hope the process will be complete within a week.

Representatives from our team on the ground have met with community spokespeople to share all of this information to them so that they can disseminate it within their communities. Our teams will also spend the weekend distributing this information, aiming to ensure everyone knows what the process will be for the week ahead.

We are concerned about the logistical challenge of so many people being registered and departing each day. We understand that no transport to the warehouse where registration will be carried out is going to be provided for those who are physically unable to walk a significant distance. This is another concern. Highly vulnerable people will be required to queue to register alongside everyone else in what might be an incredibly stressful, busy environment, with many highly anxious about their future and that of their friends and family. In addition the container camp is deemed, by those working with young people in the camp, to not be adapted to the needs of children at this difficult time.

The camp will be closed to most during the clearing period. Large aid agencies operational in the camp are permitted to continue to operate and we will have a small core team present. Our team will be there to assist and support as people depart, if required.

In the meantime we continue with large-scale targeted distribution within the camp, particularly focusing on areas which have been flagged up as being severely lacking in many of the essentials such as shoes, warm clothes and Winter jackets. We would like to ensure that as many people as possible have these items before leaving next week. We are also carrying out mass door to door distribution of backpacks containing a bin bag, a ziplock bag and a rain poncho to ensure that people have somewhere secure to keep their valuables as well as a way to protect themselves and their possessions from possible inclement weather during the moving process. The aim is to provide a backpack or suitcase to every single camp resident and the team are on-track to achieve this, thanks to the generous donations of the British public.

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