France: Latest MSF Updates

 

This information is excerpted from MSF’s 2016 International Activity Report.

In 2016, migrants and refugees trying to reach the United Kingdom found themselves stranded in northern France. The number of inhabitants in the “Jungle” — an informal camp for refugees and migrants in Calais — increased from 3,000 to nearly 10,000. The lack of adequate shelter and sanitation here and in other informal camps in northern France had significant consequences for people’s health. MSF filled gaps in services, providing health care until March, and water and sanitation services until the summer. Teams also ran a center for unaccompanied refugee minors in collaboration with other organizations and offered psychological support. In October, the Jungle was dismantled and an estimated 6,000 people living there were sent to different sites across France. MSF halted its medical and psychological activities in the area but continued to monitor the situation and provide assistance, either directly or by supporting other organizations.

In the Grande-Synthe camp near Dunkirk, MSF conducted medical and psychological consultations through mobile clinics and constructed 370 shelters with sanitation facilities for 1,300 refugees and migrants. MSF handed over these activities to other organizations in September.

Crisis Update March 23, 2016

Calais

Calais is located near the Channel Tunnel linking France and the United Kingdom, and for several years migrants have been trying to reach the UK on trucks via the tunnel.

In March 2016, over 4,000 migrants remain living in dire conditions in the Calais slum, the infamous “Jungle” site, despite the government's desire to reduce the numbers.

Meanwhile, the authorities would like the migrants to be relocated either to temporary structures they’ve provided in Calais, or to provincial towns where they can apply for asylum.

The destruction of the southern part of the Jungle began on February 29, and was almost completed on March 16. The demolition sparked violence, and Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) set up a medical unit to treat migrants wounded during clashes with the police.

The French authorities now want to dismantle the northern part of the Jungle, where 75 percent of the migrants forcibly evacuated from the southern part are now living. Overcrowding in the north of the Jungle risks reigniting tensions among the various communities.

Although MSF is in the process of handing over its container clinic to the local hospital, the organization will continue to provide psychological support and physiotherapy and attest to violence committed against any migrants. It is also extending its provision of mental health services, especially for unaccompanied minors.

MSF has set up a center in the northern part of the camp where our teams provide nursing and psychological care and issue medical certificates to victims of violence, most patients are between the ages of 15 and 18. From November 2015 to February 2016, MSF teams provided 8,416 medical consultations—the majority for respiratory infections and scabies—and 1,154 consultations for dressings. In addition, teams vaccinated 2,082 people against measles, provided 727 physiotherapy consultations, and facilitated 43 psychological consultations.

Teams also installed latrines and water points, organized rubbish collection, and managed construction for over 200 wooden shelters. 

Grande-Synthe

Almost ten years ago, a makeshift refugee camp was set up in Basroch, a plant nursery on land originally intended for the development of a 500-dwelling eco-neighborhood. Basroch is in Grande Synthe, a town near Dunkirk in northern France.

By the end of the summer in 2015, there was a huge increase in the number of refugees—from around 100 to close to 3,000—living in the camp while waiting to be able to cross into the UK.

The particularly inhumane conditions in Basroch camp led MSF’s teams to work with the municipality on setting up a new camp to be known as the Linière.

The aim was to offer migrants in Basroch camp access to not only dignified living conditions and accommodation, but also to quality health and medical services that could not be provided in Basroch.

On March 7, 8, and 9 2016, MSF teams began moving migrants on a voluntary basis from Basroch to the new camp. The whole process went smoothly and peacefully, and soon as it was finished, Basroch began to be dismantled.

By March 16, just one week after the move had been completed, almost 1,500 migrants were settled in the new camp. Divided into six sectors, the site has more than 300 shelters—each equipped with a fuel stove—and six sanitary blocks (containing showers, bathrooms, and water points).

MSF's Activities 

The MSF team consists of one doctor, one nurse, and one translator that provide medical care in the new clinic, and one doctor and two nurses that focus on mobile consultations.

Between November 2015 and February 2016, the team provided 1,932 medical consultations, including 224 wound dressings, and almost 500 people were vaccinated against measles, including 60 children. MSF is also in charge of daily fuel distributions, and has also installed 368 shelters. 

Learn More About MSF's Work With Refugees and Migrants

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