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Refugees and Migrants| Medical Assistance

Thousands of people were trapped at the border between Greece and FYROM in the summer of 2015. Chaos followed the border closures and tear gas was used to disperse crowds.
Photo: Eloisa D'orsi

In September 2015, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) started providing medical care to refugees and migrants living in the ‘Jungle’ camp in Calais.In early 2016, the ‘Jungle’ camp was home to up to 6,000 refugees and migrants. The living conditions were dire, despite the efforts of non-profit organisations and local charitable initiatives. Calais is near the Channel Tunnel, a railway link between France and the UK. For several years, people have been trying to reach the UK on trucks via the tunnel.

With Médecins du Monde, MSF started providing medical services in the camp in September. The team then built an outpatient department to improve working conditions and patient care, as the site is prone to flooding. Between 100 and 120 people were seen every day and benefited from medical consultations, nursing care and physiotherapy.

The team also undertook water and sanitation activities, built 66 chemical toilets and set up a system for collecting and managing rubbish. As people were living in small tents unsuitable for rainy and wintry weather, MSF built 80 wooden shelters, each accommodating four to five people.

Grande-Synthe, Dunkirk

People huddle around a fire to keep warm in heavy rain and freezing temperatures in the refugee camp in Grande Synthe, near Dunkirk.Photo: Jon Levy/MSF

Around 2,500 mainly Kurdish refugees and migrants were living at a site in Grande-Synthe, north of Calais, near the port of Dunkirk, in appalling conditions. MSF set up 22 latrines and two water points, and provided medical consultations three days a week.

MSF also decided, with the support of the local council, to build a new site offering better shelter and living conditions. In November and December, over 2,100 medical consultations were carried out in this area – the majority for respiratory tract infections and scabies, predominantly caused by poor hygiene and sanitation.

No. staff in 2015: 9 | Expenditure: €1.0 million | Year MSF first worked in the country: 1987