We are actively involved in sending supplies to refugees in Paris

below is an Account from Rachel Mantell of what the situation is like there

centre-humanitaireThere is an official government camp in North Paris. It looks like one of those blow up 80s municipal swimming pools where you had to go through an airlock to get in. That’s the reception- behind that is a big warehouse building that has been adapted to form a camp.

Dave King (jungle Canopy) : I was taken on a tour of this facility by the Director. It’s not a “camp” as we know it; it’s a processing engine. Refugees are allowed in for 10 days. Conditions are very good indeed. They’re given access to medical services and legal advice…and THEY ARE FINGERPRINTED. If they are found to be “Dublin” (i.e. previously given fingers in another country) they are immediately deported there. On Day Four, they are asked if they wish to apply for asylum in France. On Day Nine, they are asked again. If they agree, they are shipped off into the CAO process. If they decline to apply, on Day 10 they are kicked out. There is no second chance; they are not allowed to return.

 

Refugees can go to the camp and be warm, dry and fed; but are only supposed to stay a few days and then move on to CAOs as asylum claims are processed. But as we all know from Calais it’s not that simple.

parisMany refugees don’t want asylum in France, don’t trust buses into the unknown or are just scared and unsure of their rights. These refugees sleep on the streets in Paris or in new tent cities springing up on the outskirts. The cycle of these camps being set up and destroyed continues to play out (violently): tolerated for a time and then are cleared- with refugees usually not allowed to collect possessions or shelters (one of the reasons bivvy bags are so important).

paris2The camp lets in around 40 people a day but it is almost completely arbitrary. There can be long queues, and refugees sometimes wait from the very early hours for access, and are turned away. Utopia56 (yes the ones from Dunkirk) work in and around the camp to help refugees there  and need volunteers.

Refugees who don’t make it into or who don’t want to go to the centre are sleeping rough in the streets but are constantly harassed and moved on by the police. They have shelter and blankets stolen, shoes taken, phones smashed (sound familiar?)

The groups helping have to be very careful as much of the support is verging on illegal under emergency powers; plus Paris is incredibly expensive so they have not been able to set up infrastructure, accommodate volunteers etc. Some are locals who have supported for a long time, some sleep in the vans they use to transport donations round the city.

 

So what help is happening and how can you help?

Do Get in touch with us and look at our Amazon wishlist and our donations list

And finally – If you can support yourself in Paris (there is not the volunteer infrastructure of Calais) there is lots to do for Utopia56 or in the PRGS store room. Contact them:

PRGS Facebook or by email: prgsteam2016@gmail.com

Utopia56

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