Tech & Rights

Inhumane Conditions in French Refugee Camp Battered by Storms

Storms flooded the Grande-Synthe camp in France, leaving refugees in mud up to their ankles and their shelters completely destroyed.

by Danela Žagar
Wind and heavy rain destroyed the shelters of roughly 200 people, but French authorities won't allow volunteers to provide new tents. (Image: Jordi Bernabeu Farrús - Flickr/CC content)
People in the camp risk infection and disease, and volunteers are not able to provide them better conditions.

Volunteers from the Bristol organization Aid Box Convoy report that the tents are flooded on daily basis. Because local authorities are attempting to prevent the further growth of the camp, volunteers and humanitarian workers are not allowed to bring new tents and replace those that have become uninhabitable, or to perform any kind of construction work to improve existing shelters.


The volunteers say that they are not experienced to face the enormous problems - health problems, lack of food and non-functioning toilets - and that the type of help they are able to provide is forbidden.

Activists warn that they are not even allowed to bring firewood or new blankets. The storms soaked and destroyed the shelters of some 200 people, who managed to hide away in the distribution tents.

Doctors Without Borders, which has operated in nearby Dunkirk since October, said to The Guardian newspaper that they are worried because still nothing has been done despite nearly six weeks of discussions about relocating people.

New camp

The French authorities are planning to build a refugee camp with better conditions, so they currently do not allow improvements in the existing camp.

The Grande-Synthe refugee camp in France is the last point for around 3,000 refugees, who arrived there with the hope of crossing the Channel and entering Great Britain. Like the camp in Calais, Grande-Synthe is located 80 kilometers from Dover, England.

Media outlets, which often call the camp in Calais the "jungle," reported that the conditions in Grande-Synthe are much worse, even though the Calais camp has more people.

The settlement in Grande-Synthe exists since 2006, but for years it had fewer than 100 refugees. Since September and the beginning of the humanitarian crisis in Europe, its population has increased, with 50 to 100 new refugees coming every week.

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