Helping refugees in Paris
This week our volunteers took essential supplies to refugees in Paris. The situation is very different to Calais with refugees settling in public spaces within the town itself. Although some housing is supplied, families and children are prioritised and there are a lot of men sleeping rough on the streets. There are some French charity organisations giving assistance but their resources are stretched. Even for those applying for asylum in France the process can take many months and no support is provided in the meantime. Challenges include skin conditions, diseases, parasites as a consequences of very poor hygiene and lack of toilet facilities.
One of the camps is situated by a canal in St. Martin, not far from metro station Jaures, and the other is around a park called Eole – among many shops, bars, restaurants, and is hosting around 100 people. Some asylum centres are in the middle of nowhere, where not even food is provided. Refugees can become lonely, anxious and isolated, which then draws them back to the centre of Paris even if it means sleeping on the streets. Feeling disempowered, marginalised and stigmatised, it is not only aid and basic necessities that they need, but friendships, emotional support and a feeling that they are a part of the world, not cut from it.