Charities have issued a warning that the Calais refugee camp is swiftly running out of food.
Statements say that food and money donations have dwindled over the months, with migrants now starting to go hungry as supplies run out on a daily basis.
Part of the reason for the problem is the rapidly increasing numbers of migrants settling in the refugee camp as they attempt to seek passage to the UK. “A few months ago, there would be a maximum of 70 people in the lines; now we have 500 people queuing. We started running out of food about three weeks ago,” said Marie Eisendick from the Refugee Community Kitchen.
Refugees are now being turned away regularly, with hot meals no longer available for those who need them. “We have the same resources and staff that we had three months ago, but there are thousands more people to feed,” Marie reports
The census figures show that there are now more than 9,000 people in the camp. This is an increase of 30% over the last month, with around 70 people arriving per day. The largest numbers are arriving from Sudan and Afghanistan. Volunteers have also run out of tents and blankets.
The problems in the camp are contributing to rising tensions, with fights and arguments breaking out in the queues for food. Despite the fact that four charities are serving food daily, there is no international aid agency overseeing the camp, so resources are low.
These new problems come as the Interior Minister for France, Bernard Cazeneuve, has said the camp will be dismantled at some point soon. The idea is to create accommodation elsewhere in the country, though it is as yet unclear whether this will be a helpful solution for the migrants whose fate is still uncertain. Out of the 70 new arrivals per day, only 30 can get access to blankets and tents. That leaves a build-up of needy people which is not being reduced.
Donations have fallen since reports that part of the camp was bulldozed in the Spring, but the number of refugees has steadily risen, with many of those who were evicted simply returning.
“There is a sense that the refugee crisis is over in Calais, when it’s actually the reverse,” Eisendick said. “It angers me that a really small organisation like ours is carrying the weight of this problem without the support of the French or the British government, or bigger aid organisations. People aren’t starving here, but they are hungry because there isn’t enough food. That’s a scandalous situation to have in France.”
“There is some donor fatigue. We no longer have the money to buy the food we need to distribute,” Fee Gerlach, a volunteer for Calais Kitchens, said. “In the last two weeks, I’ve had conversations with people about hunger; in the seven months I’ve been here that hasn’t happened before.”
Help is Needed
If you wish to send aid to the camp, there are several ways in which you can help. Donations as well as leftover food, such as from restaurant kitchens, can be sent to Calais Kitchens, Refugee Community Kitchen, or Help Refugee.
You can also volunteer to work in the Help Refugee warehouse at Calais, and of course you can apply to work there as a chef or to help with food package preparation. This could be good work experience for your CV as well as a humanitarian effort. You can also volunteer to help clean up the camp, which is experiencing litter and rat problems.