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An update from Calais: by Sonja Stiner

Sonja is currently based in the Help Refugees warehouse in Calais. She is working part of the media and communications team to drive awareness into the refugee situation in Calais. 

Despite the destruction of the Calais ‘jungle’ in 2016 and the topic falling off the news agenda, there are still around 1,000 refugees sleeping rough in the outskirts of Calais who need our help.

Refugees are continuing to live in dire conditions in the outskirts of Calais, with little being done by the French government to improve the conditions. Refugees are sleeping rough – in forests, under bridges and behind industrial buildings, with little more than a sleeping bag for protection.

The conditions in Calais have not stopped the flow of refugees, with numbers expected to rise as the warmer months approach. Unaccompanied minors, as young as 12 are also sleeping rough with numbers doubled in the last few months.

Currently unaccompanied minors account for almost 30% of the total number of refugees displaced in Calais. Refugee Youth Service, a partner of Help Refugees are here on the ground to mitigate some of the risks by providing a safe-space for minors, legal support, information on asylum in France and other European countries. To make matters worse, police brutality in the camps have become a daily occurrence: tents are being slashed, teargas is being used, there is destruction of personal belongings and physical abuse.

These are the daily realities for many refugees here in Calais.

Yet despite the difficult situation here, the teams on the ground are still distributing thousands of meals and items such as blankets and sleeping bags, hygiene kits, clothing, countless shoes and much more.

To continue this work, we need enthusiastic volunteers every day to help in our warehouse and keep our operations going.

If you would like to volunteer for a few days, weeks or months there are a range of roles you can help with – no task is too small or insignificant, they all contribute.

Keen to get involved but want to know more? click here to see what projects you could get involved in today.



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