Urgent appeal for help from ‘Seeking Sanctuary’

‘Seeking Sanctuary’ is launching an emergency appeal for funds to relieve the immediate human suffering following the recent heavy rain and high winds in Northern France.

With the torrential rain and wind, and now freezing weather predicted for January and February, conditions in the camp have worsened and are deteriorating still more. Tents cannot survive these conditions, especially as the ground (an old landfill site and swamp among sand dunes) is not suitable for firmly securing guy ropes. There are a group of volunteer builders doing a fantastic job of making more sturdy wooden structures to replace the tents, but ground sheets and tarpaulin are desperately needed to weatherproof these, as well as to try to patch up ripped tents. (In Dunkirk the conditions are reported to be even worse, and supplies even more limited – but work to move people to a new location is now scheduled to start any day.)

Despite the opening of 1500 dormitory places in modified containers at Calais, the French authorities have further exacerbated the problem there by announcing immediate measures to clear all tents and structures in a zone at least 100 metres wide alongside the motorway and neighbouring houses. Aid workers have less than three days in which to help at least 1000 men, women and children to move and rebuild their dwellings.

Due to the rain, firewood is not an appropriate fuel source at the moment. Gas is in high demand and there is now a good system in the camp for re-filling gas cylinders. But it is expensive, with each cylinder costing £21 to re-fill and sustain a family or small community group tent for four weeks. Tarpaulins and groundsheets are needed to weatherproof new wood-framed shelters and to reinforce the most flimsy tents.

Finally, the Calais aid warehouses have totally run out of blankets, we would love to take them more thick warm blankets this month, to be available for new refugees arriving in the camp with nothing.

The Tunbridge Wells support group which has already made several trips will again be travelling to Calais on 27th January with 17 volunteers. They had already raised funds for essential supplies such as clothes and footwear. We want to help to raise an extra £5000, with which they want to buy large tarpaulin sheets, groundsheets, gas canister refills (each lasts a family or small group for 4 weeks) as well as thick blankets. This will help at least 200 of the people most in need, particularly following the pending clearance of shelters and tents away from the motorway.

If you can help us to raise this money please let us know and we will pass on their bank account details to you.

With thanks for all that you already do on behalf of these vulnerable people.

Ben and Phil.