When the French Government announced on Friday 12th February that they would be clearing the Southern section of the Calais camp, they estimated this would involve the relocation of approximately 800-1000 residents to the containers or alternative centres of accommodation in approx 100 locations around France.
Our teams on the ground felt these numbers wildly underestimated the true population of the camp, and concerned that many would be evicted from their homes in the midst of winter, without sufficient alternative accommodation on offer, Help Refugees and L’Auberge Des Migrants began a thorough and methodical census of the entire camp.
We can now reveal total numbers of residents in the Calais camp for the first time.
Our census shows:
The French have stated that once the Southern section of the camp is cleared (3455 residents), they will begin on the North section (2042 residents – including 137 Syrian households).
Our census did not include government run facilities including Jules Ferry (for women and children) and the shipping containers which hold 1500 and have only 300 spaces left.
Our concerns remain with welfare of the unaccompanied minors.
We have had no assurances from the French authorities that they will conduct assessments to determine best interests of these children and ensure proper safeguarding is in place before removing them from the camp and the communities they know and trust.
We urge them to delay the demolition of the southern section of the camp until these needs are met.
Tomorrow afternoon our concerns will be heard at the court in Lille. We will keep you updated on events throughout the day.
We would not be able to do our work without your support and kindness. Many of the refugees we help are fleeing the conflict zones of Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. Others are trying to escape political oppression in countries like Eritrea. All are human beings like us. As well as providing immediate physical assistance, we want to help refugees maintain their dignity.
Please click through if you would like to find out more about our work in Calais, Dunkirk, Lesvos, Samos, Idomeni and other locations. If you would like to know how you can help refugees, please check out our Get Involved section where you can find out how to fundraise for us and how to make a donation. Thank you!