Since September, the Jersey Calais Refugee Aid Group (JCRAG) has been an active organiser in facilitating the generosity of Islanders who have felt passionately about helping refugees in Calais and elsewhere. Since then, we have delivered much needed aid to the camps and informed the public about the situation on the ground. Over 75 Islanders have travelled to Calais to distribute aid and help local volunteer organisations and refugees there. Hundreds more have been involved in Jersey itself and together we have managed to raise over £25 000, receiving support from wide-ranging organisations and individuals. Our Facebook page has received over 2500 likes and remains an active forum for Islanders to become involved in our campaigns.
As the Jungle Camp in Calais is now being demolished, we feel it is important to clarify our vision for the short-term.
One of our major concerns is the fact that the French government does not seem to have any idea of how to deal with the sheer numbers who are currently being evicted from the Southern part of the Jungle. The women and children’s centre is being demolished and although the government has built alternative accommodation for 1500 people, 3455 people are still facing the prospect of becoming destitute and homeless. Local aid organisations have pointed out that there are 445 children among those people, of whom 305 are unaccompanied. A further number of 13 elderly and 145 family units will have nowhere to go, once this operation is completed. While there are court cases currently in procession, JCRAG is appealing for funds to directly help the children from the Calais Jungle. We are directly sponsoring dormitory buses and basic accommodation like new tents and sleeping bags. A donation of £ 50 could go a long way in providing a child with the basic elements to survive.
If these children are not cared for properly, they will ‘disappear off the radar’ and fall into the hands of criminal gangs connected to the sex industry. This has has already happened to over 10 000 children according to a recent report from Europol. It is now down to the efforts of volunteers and aid organizations to organize this care and protect these vulnerable people from this sort of horrendous exploitation and danger.
Please get in touch or donate generously to respond to our urgent appeal. Account number is 43492451 / sort code: 204505 / reference: JCRAG children’s appeal
On the longer term JCRAG will be focusing on the more structural well-being of the children and young adults in the camps. We believe that a basic form of education could alleviate some of the worst consequences of this crisis. Therefore we are working towards providing mobile educational units which aim to facilitate basic learning. Jersey Schools are currently considering how they can contribute to this, but we are also asking the public to become involved. In collaboration with UK charity The Schoolbus Project we will hopefully have multiple classroom units running in the refugee camps by June. £1500 will sponsor a pop-up school, while £5000 will buy a bus to be converted into a mobile classroom unit. In light of current developments, the mobility of our educational units would ensure they could be moved at any time to a different location.
JCRAG is committed to continue playing a part in the largest refugee crisis since World War II. With your help, we can continue making a small difference.