HANDS International Team Visits Calais Refugee Camp to Carry Out Needs Assessment

MCEC and, HANDS International Team along with 15 volunteers travelled to Calais to carry out needs assessment of the international refugees there.

The overall objective of the assessment is to improve knowledge of the humanitarian situation in the informal refugee camp located in Calais, in order to guide relief activities during the coming months of winter

The data should also help to draw international attention to the plight of this vulnerable sub-population, which is seriously affected by the crises in Syria, Libya, Sudan, Eretria, Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen.

Specific objectives included:
-          Assessing current and future needs of people living in ‘the jungle’
-          Providing technical and operational recommendations to respond to those needs;
Providing recommendations for some basic needs and appropriately respond to the humanitarian crisis.

Following are the findings of our team:


We identified two types of shelter - both inadequate: – 1) basic polythene tents (not –waterproof) covered in temporary make shift waterproofing, 2) Wooden temporary self-built structures

1      Tents
  • Largely one man two man polythene tents
  • Some larger
  • Covered in black refuse sack plastic
  • Most pegged in the sand
  • Few mounted above the ground on wooden palettes

  • Not waterproof
  • Not weather proof
  • Not fit for habitation
  • Closely packed
  • Hazardous

 Coming into to the winter we predict:
-          Increased disease
-          Increased mortality of old and other susceptible groups
-          Increased desperation to leave

There is an urgent and pressing need for adequate shelter in preparation for winter.

 Water, Sanitation and Hygiene
We identified a total of three water points:
-          All cold water
-          Inadequate
-          Open – Pipe connected were above the ground and had been disconnected
-          Not weather-proof
-          Not fit for consumption (our tests show a high presence of bacteria such as e-coli and salmonella in of the water supplies)

8 temporary toilets (all close together)
A total of 9 shower points
Saw the use of stagnant water pools for washing and urination


No evidence of temporary education facilities for children or adults
No evidence of informal education /passing on of skills or knowledge
No access to pen or paper / no basic materials to communicate in written form
Working professionals are being deskilled due to lack of practice
Unable to access religious materials like Qur’ans and Bible’s on request 


The health needs of the population was wholly unmet; Malnutrition was evident as was obvious physical injuries such as open wounds and disability (amputees). Evidence of high infections disease rate (chest infections), in a largely unvaccinated population.

Acutely unwell refugees were without treatment and at risk of transmitting their conditions onto others due to overcrowding. Clear evidence of Psychological distress and grief on their faces. We encountered medical conditions from respiratory, gastrointestinal, dermatological and musculoskeletal systems.

We saw many foot callouses and inadequate footwear.

There is a medical facility present on the ground provided by M├ędecins du Monde, which only runs during the daylight hours from Monday to Friday. There is no provision of emergency medical aid and access to ambulance service.

-          No means to achieve a adequate livelihood
-          No dignity/empowerment

HANDS International and MCEC concluded that there was an urgent need to provide Health and Hygiene services for the Refugees. And, jointly decided to look at the task of providing emergency medical facilities at the weekend, improvement in WASH services and the possibility of providing possible access to ambulance service, if necessary.