TIMELINE - PRIOR MONTHS 
​​April 2017

Nearly 300 refugees are to be resettled in the county - in Carlisle and Eden - over the next three years.  They will be offered a limited package of support including housing, education and cultural help as they adjust to their new lives in this country. If you'd like to know how you can help support these families, please contact us (details below) and we'll send you an informational packet.

We are giving a slideshow presentation on June 29 at Brampton Community Centre entitled: The Refugee Crisis: Hope & Help. For more information please go to   EVENTS


DUNKIRK FIRE

"At the time of the fire, 80 children were living in the Dunkirk camp who had a legal right to be reunited with family members in the UK. Those children experienced their plywood homes burning down around them this week, because the Home Office has not seen fit to act on the information they already have to bring these children to the safety of their families." 
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On Monday night, April 10th, a massive fire destroyed much of the Grande-Synthe refugee camp near Dunkirk. At present, many of the estimated 2000 residents are being accommodated in gymnasiums. Hundreds, however, have taken to streets and woodlands, afraid of revisiting the tensions of Monday night. Volunteers are working hard to support those sleeping in sports halls and trying to contact those without shelter to see whom they can support. 

As to the future of the camp, no-one knows. A number of French politicians have claimed that the camp will never reopen. However these are the same politicians who have campaigned for the camp’s closure from the outset. The mayor of Dunkirk, who was central to establishing the camp in the first place and ensuring it has been allowed to remain open, has yet to comment. While we wait for concrete news, we continue to think of those who have already experienced so much hardship on their horrendous journeys whilst escaping unimaginable horrors. After yet another unsettling, we can only hope that the UK and the rest of Europe recognises that we can and should help those in need of sanctuary.
At the time of the fire, 80 children were living in the Dunkirk camp who had a legal right to be reunited with family-members in the UK . Those children experienced their plywood homes burning down around them this week, because the Home Office has not seen fit to act on the information they already have to bring these children to the safety of their families. We would encourage you to go to  http://safepassage.org.uk/get-involved/campaign/  and support their campaigns by writing to your representatives to demand action.

In the meantime, Alison Raimes set off for Dunkirk on April 13, loaded with sleeping bags, blankets and warm clothes. Personally, I am thrilled that an experienced volunteer who can provide so much support on the ground, as well as deliver essential donations/supplies, has been able to respond to the emergency situation in Dunkirk. We have no other volunteers from Cumbria due in France in the near future, but will ensure that all funds donated to CRAG in April will be spent on relief efforts in Northern France. We would also encourage you to donate directly to relief efforts by 
Care4calais at http://care4calais.org/donate and  Refugee Community Kitchen, w ho have more than double their food output overnight to support Dunkirk residents.

If you click on any of the above links to donate, your support will be very much appreciated by those enduring yet another horrific ordeal in France. For full report download .

TURKEY

On Saturday 8th April, some of the unofficial Syrian tent camps in Turkey came under attack. The incident appears to have been triggered over a minor dispute that conflagrated into larger differences.  Hundreds of Syrians were forced to flee their homes. The vast majority did so without their possessions, which were later destroyed.

People who have fled over 750 miles from the Syrian bombs have now been forced to flee again from a flimsy haven of survival on the outskirs of Turkey, where they work as migrant farmers illegally. This has all happened within a climate of political instability with the looming constitutional referendum taking place this Sunday 16th April. Tensions are affecting a number of communities.

We are giving a talk in Brampton at Mr. Brown's Cafe about the plight of refugees at 6:30pm on Thursday the 20th of April - click  events for details. 


March 2017

CRAG members have been working with the local authorities, schools and community groups on preparations for the arrival of Syrian refugee families in April. A public talk on the background to the crisis in Syria with suggestions for how best to welcome the families when they arrive attracted more than 150 people in February. This was followed up by a very successful schools workshop and a meeting of potential language support volunteers in March. We have drafted a Mythbusters document and are working on further information material. To get involved or to find out more about our plans for the next few months contact us through the email below or come along to our next public event.

Meanwhile, one of our regular volunteers has just returned from Turkey after an iniitial visit in February. Twelve camps were visited and many toilets and drainage pipes were installed as well as the delivery of food staples and other necessities of life. The people showed their gratefulness by their warm hearts and hospitality. They shared their stories of loss and hardship but were thankful they could still be together as families. (So many have been split up in the war.) The children were particularly endearing - curious, humorous, playful, innocent and helpful. It was difficult to leave. 

February 2017

TURKEY

One of CRAG's regular volunteers recently travelled to Turkey to assess the situation in the Syrian refugee camps and provide help where he could. He worked alongside World Wide Tribe. There are 400,000 Syrians living in unofficial camps on the outskirts of Turkey, largely unseen and bearly surviving. There appears to be little or no government aid, and none of the larger NGOs are operating there.

When it is available, the Syrian refugees can get work on the farms and are paid a small amount of money. They pay rent for each tent space, usually about £24.00 per month. Many do not have running water or toilets. The main necessities needed are fire wood, for warmth and cooking, and pallets for floors, as flooding is common. The refugees have realised that free handouts achieves very little and often cause serious problems. When things are free, no particular person, group or family has ownership and squabbles over who has how much can turn into fights and feuds. So, instead the materials are subsidised out of the donations and sold, usually at half the wholesale price to the people in the camps.

Progress is slowly being made in the camps. Some toilets have been installed and there is talk of building a hammam. More help and donations are needed. To read the full report, click.

PARIS

Paris currently has about 600 asylum-seekers living in the official “camp”. The incongruous inflatab...le big-top serves as the admission point, and as a day-centre for those already admitted. Somewhere to socialise, get information about the asylum system, begin to learn French and so on. Behind it is the actual camp. Eight zones, each housing about 75 people in plywood huts within a derelict warehouse. Each zone has a communal dining area, serving three meals a day. And that’s about it. People can obtain clothes from the distribution area managed by Utopia56, and the camp management (carried out by Emmaus) run a laundry service for the sake of hygiene and dignity. FULL REPORT.


January 2017

Towards the end of October 2016 the main Calais Jungle camp was closed and demolished with its occupants bussed off to centres around France where they were told their claims for asylum would be processed. As seen on the international news and by witnesses on the ground, this was a very messy affair. It has been reported that children went missing throughout this process and many refugees have ended up sleeping rough in Paris and other parts of France.

Carlisle Refugee Action Group has been supporting the Phone Credit for Refugee's Fund and we donated more warm clothes, blankets and other shelter items over the Christmas holiday period to charities and other groups working with the most vulnerable refugees in Paris. We are working with our local and French partners to arrange deliveries of much needed items. Many thanks to all who gave during the Christmas season.  

Our educational work continues in the camp in Dunkirk and we are supporting the rebuild of the Women and Children's Centre there. 

We are looking forward to welcoming a group of Syrian families to Cumbria in  April 2017 and we are working with the County Council and other partners to plan ways we can best support them. Recent fact finding trips to Lancaster and Dumfries have been very helpful.


For prior history please visit our old page on ​​​​​​​​​​​​​Carlisle One World Centre

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