Refugees in Paris living in conditions ‘unfit for any human being”
This week we took warm jackets and bedding to Paris to distribute. We were prepared for the trip to be challenging, but not for quite how challenging it would prove to be. We drove the van, stuffed to its brim with urgently needed items, to Danika in Paris. Danika is an extraordinary women who has been supporting refugees living in Paris for the past five years. She spends her time speaking with the refugee communities to understand their needs, collecting and distributing necessary items, and buying and cooking food so people have something to eat.
Danika took us to to an area where a number of Eritreans are living on the outskirts of the city. The people living there were kind, appreciative and calm, despite being stripped of any dignity. How people are living is unfit for any human being. The area was thick with mud, covered in rubbish and crawling with rats. Tents leaked from the rain, there was no running water and no toilet facilities. It is a desperate and inhumane situation. It was very shocking to see anyone living like this, and especially so in a European capital.
Tragically this is the reality for over a thousand refugees across Paris. What also struck me was, like so many places in Europe, the absence of any formalised humanitarian response. Consequently the responsibility to deliver aid, decimate information and support these people is left to civil society.; people like Danika and small groups of volunteers. These dedicated locals do not have the resources, tools or security to meet the scope of this issue or fulfil a distribution without personal risk, but driven by their determination, they continue anyway. Because if they don’t then who else will?
Written by Yasmin Finbow a Care4Calais volunteer.
For more information on the refugee crisis, to volunteer or donate visit care4calais.org/get-involved