Via The Guardian: Heavy rains bring disease and disaster to France's forgotten refugee camp. Excerpt:
Hundreds of refugees are living in dangerous, unsanitary conditions after days of heavy rain left their camp in northern France ankle-deep in filthy water, while guards have blocked migrants’ attempts to replace tents and rebuild temporary shelters.
Aid agencies working at the camp in Grande-Synthe, Dunkirk, say they are concerned for the health of the refugees due to an apparent ban on building materials, firewood and even blankets being brought into the compound during the cold, damp period.
The site, known as France’s “forgotten” camp and which is about 50 miles from Dover, is estimated to hold 3,000 refugees mainly from Syria, Iran and Iraq.
After Sunday night’s rain, 200 refugees – many of them children – had to leave their sodden tents to keep dry in the distribution shelter. By Monday a huge pool of water stood in the middle of the camp, which has destroyed large numbers of tents. Building rain-proof dry shelters or bringing new tents is forbidden, according to aid workers on the ground.
Laurent Sury, an emergency coordinator for the charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), which has been working in Dunkirk since October, said: “We are worried as there have been almost six weeks of discussions of moving people and nothing has been done.
“Despite the rain there are items we are not allowed to take, such as building materials like wood and new tents, and this is almost certainly because they do not want the camp to expand. It has made help very difficult.”
The French national gendarmerie, or military police, did not respond before publication to a request for clarification of why some building materials and much-needed supplies appeared to be blocked from entering the camp. The French embassy in London were also contacted but again did not provide a comment before the publication deadline.
One week after swaths of northern UK were flooded by Storm Frank, torrential rainfall across the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region has mounted new pressure on a camp already under severe strain.
According to volunteers on the new arrivals desk, between 50 and 100 new refugees have been arriving every day, which combined with the drop in temperature and recent downfall has left the camp completely devoid of resources. A number of refugees have been driven out of the Kurdish part of the Calais camp due to attacks of tear gas and rubber bullets from local guards.
As well as severely damaging their shelter, the rain has also brought disease, attracting flies and rats and causing significant health problems. The organisation Health and Nutrition Development Society International recently came to the camp to distribute flu vaccinations, and out of the 155 individuals they treated 96 had scabies and many were coughing up blood.