Most will be aware of the unofficial refugee camp that came to be known as the ‘Jungle’, which was demolished last October. At its peak it was home to over 10,000 refugees. Alongside the dismantling of the jungle came the dismantling of people’s awareness of the continued suffering that continues to this day. The charity Helprefugees have estimated there to be approximately 750 refugees sleeping rough in Calais and a further 300-400 in Dunkirk. These rough figures do not take into account the myriad of other satellite camps throughout Northern France. All of these people require regular medical care.
Whilst Doctors of the World, the French Red Cross, and Gynécologie sans Frontières work tirelessly to support where they can, their resources are stretched and they are not able to visit each camp daily. The charity ‘Refugee First Aid & Support Team’ plugs these gaps and has provided first aid to thousands of people over the last few years, with enquiries ranging from the trivial to the more urgent and very occasionally life-threatening. The reluctance of many refugees to make the trip to hospital for the unfounded fear of deportation and more realistic fears of untoward treatment by police or the local populations means we are often their first port of call. By treating the refugees we protect them from such threats, help look after their health and also relieve the burden on the French non-governmental (NGO) and governmental organisations.