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Calais and Dunkirk, Northern France

October 23, 2023

After ‘The Biriyani Mission’ in the unofficial camp of Dunkirk where we cooked and distributed 2500 portions of biriyani with halal lamb, with a serving of bananas and soft drinks as requested by camp residents, from September 2015 until mid 2016 we continued to support organisations working in and the residents of the notoriously know, ‘Jungle’ camp in Calais, the initial camp in Dunkirk in a large muddy field and then the more formalised camp in Dunkirk, with wooden shelters.  

At its height ‘The Jungle,’ in Calais was said to have hosted 12,000 people whilst in Dunkirk, 3000 people. Ruhi’s initial thoughts of Calais as she posted on social media was:

‘Upon arrival, my heart stopped when ‘The Jungle,’ Calais came into sight.

How could this be possible, in a first world, European country?

Shocked. Numerous tents packed in one area. It was night, it was raining, it was freezing, it was windy. Some tents placed so close to the road they’ll surely feel cars speed past.

I thought to myself how will these people survive? The mud. The unsanitary conditions. How could WE let our fellow human beings live like this?

One side of the street a normal world the other side UNIMAGINABLE.’

Our support continued until these camps were closed due to government led evictions with dismantling, and large fires burning entire infrastructures, and consisted of:

  • Renovating and delivering a painted caravan to host a family in Calais. 
  • Wound care rounds led by Ruhi with other health care professionals, with delivery of specialist medical aid to medical organisations. 
  • A distribution of 2500 food and hygiene packs in Dunkirk, which included rice, oil, sugar, bread, chocolate, eggs, toothpaste, soap, shampoo and toothbrush. 
  • Buying and delivery of food supplies to ‘Kitchen in Calais.’
  • Distribution of winter aid, clothes, shoes, boots and hand knitted winter accessories. 
  • Delivery and distribution of 6 van loads of aid included tents, tarpualin, sleeping bags, fire wood, wooden pallets, pushchairs, children’s activities and toys driven from Newcastle. 
  • A suitably sized cradle was bought for a three year old child with disabilities unable to walk, who was sleeping in a cramped crate in his tent with his mother. 
  • We provided volunteers and hand to help with different organisations needing support in Calais and Dunkirk, from sorting and packing at warehouse, to cooking and chopping with kitchen projects. 

Although the camps in Calais and Dunkirk no longer exist, there is still a few thousand people that become stuck and cross via there, living out in the woods with tents and tarpaulin for shelter. Regular evictions by police means there is little peace for them. We, at RBB continue to stay updated on the situation, raise awareness, and communicate with our colleagues who continue to operate there. 

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