WE ARE SEVEN ASSOCIATIONS WORKING WITH REFUGEES IN CALAIS.
TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC AND ALL OUR SUPPORTERS,
Since the ‘Jungle’ refugee camp gained international attention in 2015, the environment in Calais has changed dramatically, as French and UK authorities take ever more drastic measures to inhibit people on the move. Yet though it is only 'record' boat crossings that make the headlines, the wider situation in Calais remains a crisis - not for the politicians but for every person who finds themselves on the UK-French border.
Today there are estimated to be over 2,000 displaced people in Calais, living in tents or under tarpaulin in temporary settlements scattered across the area. Grassroots organisations working on the ground have adapted to the deteriorating conditions and continue to support people on the move by providing a range of basic services which neither the French nor British authorities are willing to offer. This includes the distribution of clothing, water, food, shoes, tents, backpacks, hygiene packs, first aid, firewood and information, as well as specialized support for unaccompanied minors, children, and women.
We have been able to continue to support displaced communities in Calais over the years thanks to donations from our supporters. However, after over six years of delivering services, a major donor has informed us that unfortunately from January 1st 2022, and even earlier for some, we will no longer have the option to renew our funding, which will leave a gap that was not possible to anticipate. This leaves the organisations Calais Food Collective, WoodYard, Collective Aid, Refugee Women’s Centre, Refugee Info Bus, Project Play and Human Rights Observers without sustainable funding from January on, at a time when French and UK governments are taking steps to further restrict the rights of people seeking sanctuary, and to abdicate their own responsibility to protect them.
That’s why we are launching the Calais Appeal campaign, to inform our supporters and the wider public about the situation on the UK-French border, the mistreatment of displaced communities and our own efforts to support people on the move. Through this campaign we aim to increase donations from our supporters and to encourage more people to get involved in our work and donate. Now, more than ever, we recognise that we must act together to guarantee the long-term future of front-line grassroots groups in Calais and our ability to deliver vital support.
If we were to have to withdraw from Calais there would be dangerous gaps left in the provision of services to displaced people - basic warmth, shelter and food. We are therefore in urgent need of support in order to be able to remain in Calais and to keep covering necessities and fostering dignity for displaced communities, for as long as there are people on the move forced to sleep rough, with no rights guaranteed, suffering as a result of unfair and inhumane European migration policies.
Our grassroots organisations in Calais have shared forces and expertise during the many years that we have been working together on the ground. Through Calais Appeal we hope to build a community of solidarity that stretches far beyond Calais - building awareness of what is happening here, and increasing donations to ensure our sustainability.
Your support is more important now than ever. From small to big donations, all is welcome, in order to cover the needs of a winter with very low temperatures and lots of rain, which constitutes our most immediate need; and the sustainability of our programs throughout the years to come.