It's been five days since I left the refugee camps in Northern France and what I saw in the Grand-Synthe camp, just outside of Dunkirk, continues to play on a loop in my mind. Home to a couple of hundred people just a few months ago, the camp now has around two thousand inhabitants, 300 of whom are children, living in appalling conditions and at risk of serious disease and illness. The situation is becoming increasingly desperate. The recent stormy weather has flooded the camp, destroying tents and leaving hundreds of refugees with nowhere to sleep. HANDS International, a medical group providing vaccinations in the camp, found that 90% of inhabitants now have scabies. They are concerned about the number of people coughing up blood. More refugees arrive every day. The majority are Kurdish, fleeing war and persecution in Iraq and Syria. None are there by choice. Many have relatives living in England and are trying to join them. They don't intend to stay in Dunkirk long term, but the likelihood of them making it to England is slim.
[The camp] has eight taps, one for every 375 people, and one toilet for every 150 people
I have to turn away to hide the tears in my eyes as he realises that this camp, this festering, rat-ridden camp without adequate shelter, sanitation or food, is likely to be his home for the foreseeable future.
Shout and share on social media, contact your local MPs, donate money to the crowdfunding page if you can or fill up a van with tents, blankets, fire wood, cooking gas and, most importantly, food and drive it over.
With thanks to photographer Jordi Oliver.
Refinery29 has partnered with USA for UNHCR to support refugees around the world. You can make a difference with your donation here: UNrefugees.org/Refinery29.
Refinery29 is committed to telling the human story behind the headlines of the Syrian refugee crisis. To read the story of three Syrian women forced to flee violence and civil war, and how they have rebuilt their lives in Turkey, read "Daughters of Paradise" here. For full coverage of the Syrian refugee crisis, read more here.