Refugee Issues: Paris vs Calais

Refugee Issues: Paris vs Calais

What’s similar?

  • A recent estimate put 1,000 refugees sleeping rough in Paris (outside of the official centre) so for the first time in a while the numbers are comparable
  • Conditions are dire; in both places there is no reliable food supply; people can’t wash and skin disease is rife; there is even a shortage of drinking water
  • Access to medical and dental help is sadly lacking despite the best efforts of aid agencies who are overwhelmed

What’s different?

  • Most refugees in Calais have gravitated there in desperate hope to reach the UK. The most common reason we hear is close relatives living here, and then other links such as having worked with the British army, or being an English teacher in another land
  • As a broad generality most refugees in Paris are hoping to claim asylum in France. They queue for days to get access to the official centre where they hope they may be able to apply; however the reality is that many get rejected

The big issue

  • A failure of the system. In particular the “Dublin” system that means a refugee can only claim asylum in the first “safe” country of arrival in the EU. This was first introduced in the 1990s but is now widely criticised as being no longer fit for purpose given the massive changes in circumstances of the EU and the scale of the worldwide refugee crisis
  • The current impact of this system is that most refugees arriving in Europe are required to claim asylum in either Italy or Greece, as this is where most arrive. However neither are rich countries and both are buckling under the weight of many arrivals in the last two years. The effect is that, for refugees in these countries, there is no way for them to work to support themselves (and of course they do not want to be dependent) and many have no possessions or even food, and no prospect of this in the future
  • The secondary impact is that any who move on within Europe to try to remedy this situation are then unable to claim asylum; but providing such protection is an important objective of the European Convention on Human Rights
  • Many believe that a fairer system to deal with the current refugee crisis – the biggest issue of our generation – is now required
  • However others argue that the current “Dublin” system benefits the UK – If you take “benefits’ to mean provides an excuse not to do our fair share to help out

So what can we do?

  • Share this story. Tell everyone you can why the Dublin system is unfair and why it must change
  • Collect and donate items that are priority needs in Paris. We now have storage in Paris used by the fabulous Danika Jurisic and Heather Young. Current priorities:
    • Food for snack packs (dried fruit and nuts, cereal bars, tinned fruit and fish with pull tops etc.; things that don’t need cooking for those living on the street)
    • Sleeping bags
    • Blankets
    • Waterproof coats and ponchos
    • Men’s underwear/boxers
    • Socks
    • Tee shirts
    • Waterproof walking boots
    • Dictionaries, French to Pashto, Farsi etc

Donate at

  • £5 buys a food pack
  • £13 fully clothes a refugee
  • £20 buys a pair of waterproof walking boots

Just put “food”, “clothes” or “boots” in the comments when you donate.

Further reading:

About Care4Calais

Care4Calais was founded by a group of volunteers with the sole aim of supporting the people of the Calais refugee camps, providing fresh meals, warm clothing, heating and important legal and medical support.

We are not politicians – we are people like you who simply believe that every human has the right to be treated in a fair and dignified way.

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