Update on Refugee Centres in France
Now that most of the Calais refugees have been relocated to ‘welcome’ centres round France we are starting to get initial reports in about the living conditions at these centres. There has been a significant variation in these reports. The best include: people living in flats with a bedroom each, vouchers for food and a washing machine – “you don’t need to worry about me any more – my situation is very good!” The worst include: 25 people sleeping in each room with two toilets and two showers shared between 50 people – “it feels like a prison – we have no blankets”.
And then we have some odd ones: “they don’t give us slippers, please help”.
The most common issue we hear is with food. The refugees struggle with non halal food and in 30% of cases they say the food is poor or they do not have enough food. In centres where they are provided with cooking facailities we have been told they are given a budget of €14 – €16 each per week to buy food. We are therefore preparing to spend the next few weeks delivering food parcels around France, so what we will need is – FOOD PARCELS, DRIVERS and VANS to come over as much as possible, in addition to money for fuel and road tolls.
We have also been told that none of the centres provide winter clothes. This is very worrying, as we know many refugees lost clothes in the fires that happened in the camp. Although it’s early days to make a full assessment, it’s likely that WINTER CLOTHES and BOOTS will be required.
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Encouragingly in three cases we have been told of medical care being provided and in no cases have we had reports of it being withheld.
However in only two out of 22 CAOs has any interpreter or legal/asylum advice been provided. We hope this will quickly increase as we understand that the refugees have only four weeks in the welcome centres before they have to make their decision on whether to claim asylum in France.