Volunteer first aid trip to Calais and Dunkirk

Benjamin Eder, member of the Refugee Solidarity Group writes about upcoming volunteer trip to Calais and Dunkirk. 

Next weekend from the 21st to 24th September, a team of us from Medact Refugee Solidarity Group are going to Calais and Dunkirk to help the Refugee First Aid and Support Team deliver medical care to refugees.

They are people from all walks of life.

They are people who are doctors, teachers, students, children.

They are people, who have fled from their homes due to war, persecution and abuse of their Human Rights.

They are people, whose families have been torn apart by conflict; conflict, driven by a world consumed by power, by the pursuit of ‘growth’ at all costs and a world intent on destroying the planet.

They are people that have been on journeys across the sea, in the backs of lorries, in the hope that where they will end up, will surely be better than what they left behind.

They are people, who have arrived in Calais, with dreams of a safe and happy future, to find themselves ignored by the British government and beaten by the French authorities.

They are people, denied access to medical care.

They are people, living in hope of freedom.

They are people.

Following the clearing of the so-called jungle camp in Calais in October 2016 and the camp in Dunkirk tragically burning down in April 2017, the daily situation for people, who are refugees, in Northern France has largely been ignored. With many still unaccounted for, the woods around Calais and Dunkirk have once again become home to an estimated 700 refugees, including more than 120 unaccompanied children, sleeping rough. This has been exacerbated by the British Government’s decision to go against their pledge to uphold the Dubs Amendment. Despite the dearth in coverage, ordinary people are in desperate need of help all over Europe.  

In preparation for supporting the work of the Refugee First Aid and Support Team, we have been fundraising to buy much needed medical supplies. Thank you to all of you, who have so generously supported us. If you would like to donate, you can do so here – we are all immensely grateful.

All of us, who are part of the Medact Refugee Solidarity Group know that our trip to France is not going to change the underlying causes of this crisis. We do hope however that our supplies can help support the Refugee First Aid and Support Team, who have been doing a brilliant job providing much needed care for people. We hope that going to France and speaking to people will show that, whilst the British government has turned their back on the people in Northern France and around Europe, that we care and people care about them.

Our trip to Calais forms just part of our work to tackle the unjust treatment of people, who are asylum seekers and refugees. We are going to be standing in solidarity with Docs Not Cops and a whole host of other organisations on the 30th September for the Patients Not Passports – No Borders in the NHS action in London to advocate for a well-funded NHS, with properly paid workers delivering free healthcare to everyone in the UK, regardless of their immigration status.

We are additionally starting work around advocating for access to healthcare and supporting Doctors of the World UK with the #StopSharing campaign. We will be talking about more of these projects soon!

I have just finished reading Naomi Klein’s ‘No Is Not Enough,’ which left me shocked at the level of exploitation of people and inspired that together we can ‘leap’ for a more equitable world, for people and planet.

In solidarity,

Benjamin Eder,

Medact Refugee Solidarity Group