A bittersweet visit to the refugees in Paris
Going back to Paris this weekend for the first time in months was bittersweet. On the one hand it was great to be able to take a van loaded with tents, duvets and coats to the hundreds of refugees on the streets there waiting for asylum. But it was also heartbreaking seeing so many families with young children sleeping on little patches of land next to the canal, getting moved on every morning. Nothing has changed in the city.
People there are stuck in horrible conditions. While they wait for their asylum claims to be heard these families sleep in makeshift tents outside. The number that they can call for emergency housing almost never works, and even when it does all they get is a hotel for a few nights and then they are back on the streets. Getting moved around also means their possessions often get confiscated so hundreds of people are in desperate need of clothes and blankets.
The worst part is that their stories are all the same. When a refugee gets to Paris their first days are all spent in a campsite, followed by long queues and lots of waiting around to start the asylum process. They spend hours on the phone calling the same number over and over again, praying their batteries don’t die because there is no charging point in sight. The whole process is exhausting, traumatising and humiliating.
We urgently need to buy more tents, blankets and clothes to keep people warm. To help us please visit care4calais.org/donate