Pictured: Some of the Irish lot who are volunteering in the refugee camp in Dunkirk with the wood burning rocket stoves they brought to the camp.
A group of Irish volunteers are over in the Dunkirk camp at the moment. It’s the “forgotten” refugee camp in Northern France with a largely Kurdish population.
The volunteers made their way over late last week bringing with them about 30 wood burning stoves and other supplies for the camp. They’ve appealed for more support on their Facebook page:
“Are you free for a weekend, or few days in the coming weeks? If so, we could really use a hand in Dunkrik. We need people to help us build shelters, get equipment on and around the site, distribute essential items to refugees, raise awareness and funds. Dunkirk is most simple to get to by road, rail, bus, ferry, flights, carpool, rent-a-car etc. There is a host of affordable accommodation, local Airbnb, hostels, and for free in safe aid tents in the camp. Why not start the year with one of the most life-affirming few days you are likely to experience? PM for more. Please share.”
There’s a fairly hardcore clampdown on any fire wood or construction materials going into the site and on Monday it looked like the group wouldn’t get their provisions in. Eventually they did.
“The tents the refugees are mostly flimsy summer time tents that are not suitable for winter conditions. Also benders are very good and suitable for winter conditions and the burners can be set up in them which give extra heat to the family that could live in each bender. The burners can also be used for cooking, on the camp there are places for the refugees to cook their own food or boil water, so these burners will make a huge difference for the people using them.”
The camp, situated on the edge of a housing estate and a football club has be been blighted by rain, flooding and police restrictions. The Youtube video above sees an English volunteer who’s already spent four months in the camp report on conditions there.
There’s 30 toilets for around 3000 people, one wash station for the whole camp, the showers have been broken for three months and only one large kitchen ran by some Swiss volunteers who cook and a small school for the kids.
3000 people you say? Yikes.
“Things are getting worse. We really really need to do something quickly. The health problems in the camp are so bad that I don’t think we’re far from something catastrophic. There’s no answers from anyone, everyone is stuck in limbo. We had Hands International here on Saturday doing flu vaccinations and they said of the 156 people they saw, over 130 had scabies. They said a lot of people are coughing up blood because their chest infections are so bad.”
Video bloggers Clearhaze.ie have done some video reporting from the camps too.
Meanwhile, here’s our article looking at Ireland’s grassroots response to the refugee crisis from #rabble11.
Give Irish Benders & Burners- Refugee Solidarity a follow on Facebook for more and donate to firstname.lastname@example.org via Paypal.