Covid-19 survey: Food and shelter fears worse than ever
Over the last two weeks we surveyed 150 refugees across Calais and Dunkirk to gather data on the impacts of Covid-19. We want to assess both our own response and most-needed actions. The results are interesting.
Almost half (48%) of those we talked to have only been in Calais for three months or less. This is a reminder of how transitory the population is – particularly given that for the last month there have been rigid travel restrictions in France and the rate of new arrivals has dropped.
Only 14 people told us that Coronavirus was a primary concern for them. Why should it be? Nearly three times as many said they were fearful for their most basic needs: food, sanitation, shelter or clothing. When you don’t know where your next meal is coming from, a virus seems like a problem for another day.
As the two weeks of the survey progressed, concerns around clothes and shoes rose to 46% and 41% respectively. For the last month we’ve had to focus entirely on food provision as other NGOs have pulled out and the French state has cut back. The knock-on effect is people wearing the same dirty clothes for weeks and telling us they are itchy and sore. We are low on volunteers and struggling to get donations across but must respond to this need – it’s the worst it’s ever been.
Most people (86%) had serious reservations about going to the French government-run shelters; many are concerned they won’t be able to get to the UK (53%); might be more exposed to the virus there (13%); don’t trust French authorities (9%); or will lose their freedom (8%).
Please help us keep responding to this crisis now.