A fire has gutted the Grand-Synthe refugee camp in Dunkirk, further displacing over 1,000 people. The population of the Grand-Synthe camp has grown since the destruction of the Calais 'Jungle' camp. Many of the people at the Grand-Synthe camp are women and children, who have and continue to be supported by the Dunkirk Women and Children's services.
The news reports suggest that the fire was the result of violent clashes between residents of the camp and then later between residents of the camp and police. There have been injuries to residents of the camp and it is reported that the camp has been destroyed. Violence must be condemned, but it is important to remember that violence occurs from a minority. This must not be used as an excuse to further label and marginalise refugees across Europe.
Grand-Synthe was all of what little remained on the northern coast for refugees seeking sanctuary. Following the demolition in Calais, charities have been struggling to provide support to an ever transient and marginalised group. Makeshift encampments across the north of France are even more unsafe than the camps that once stood and the access to services and support is even more limited. The destruction of this camp and facilities that serves it's populations will drive more and more, including the younger children that call that camp home, out in even poorer conditions.
As ever, another crisis effort will be made by the many voluntary organisations supporting refugees in France, while there still remains a hostile environment towards finding permanence. Further displacement and further risk, all at a time when we are closing down legal routes to sanctuary and making it harder and harder for the refugees of France to find solidarity and safety.
An emergency fund has been set up to provide immediate aid to those who have lost everything. You can find it here to donate.