Lib Dems deliver vital aid to Dunkirk Refugee Camp

Brad HS Dunkirk 1Throughout last week Baroness Shas Sheehan and I have been collecting vital items needed in the camp in Dunkirk. From a list of items approved by volunteers on the ground we asked Lib Dems and local residents to come together and purchase what they could. The list included brand new sleeping bags, tents, blankets, food, gas, warm and waterproof clothes as well as sturdy, waterproof shoes. We were overwhelmed with the response and managed to fill a van to the brim with these essential donations.

On Sunday, we drove the van across to northern France to the camp in Dunkirk. The conditions in Dunkirk are in many ways worse than in Calais. The mud is particularly problematic for the 2,500 mainly Kurdish refugees living there. Local authorities are disallowing any construction of more sturdy wooden shelters so most people live in tents. This does not offer much protection and makes the weather a real problem with high winds, cold temperatures and large rainfall, especially in the last few days. It is also the case that there are more families and children in this camp.

Brad HS Dunkirk 2As we walked around the camp we distributed fresh oranges. We learned of the journeys, stories and aspirations of many who live there. Our vanload of essential supplies was directed specifically to the relevant distribution points and was welcomed by the volunteers who work tirelessly. In total we dropped off around 40 brand new sleeping bags, 10 tents, 5 sacks of warm blankets, 5 duvets, 50 gas canisters, hundreds of batteries, sacks of warm clothes, jackets and shoes as well as tinned food. This, we were told, meant that the volunteers were well stocked for the evening ahead. Of course, more is needed.

Baroness Shas Sheehan has led this campaign to collect and provide charitable aid to those in Dunkirk. She has worked tirelessly in and out of the House of Lords to campaign and speak up for refugees to find a political solution. As we know Tim Farron has also been leading on putting pressure on David Cameron to take in more refugees.

Shas with aid supplies for DunkirkThis is on top of a series of successful Help Refugee Action Days held by Camden Liberal Democrats who have gathered vanloads of food, clothes and blanket donations from generous local residents, raised hundreds of pounds to buy essential items and gained hundreds of signatures backing the Lib Dem and Save The Children Campaign for the UK to take in 3000 unaccompanied refugee children.

This action shows that as Lib Dems we can do more than simply criticise the government’s response to the refugee crisis, we can stand up in support and help raise vital aid for refugees and campaign for a political solution. We will be putting out further calls for item donations in the future so keep an eye out. We also warmly encourage any Lib Dems to email [email protected] to find out how they can be a part of this growing liberal movement to help refugees.

* Bradley is an active member of the Lib Dems as a council member for both the SLF and LD4SOS, standing for local elections in 2014 and 2016 and as borough organiser for Camden in 2016. He also has a leading role in the Lib Dem campaign to raise donations for refugees and lobbying the government to settle more refugees. He is currently studying for his PhD in moral and political philosophy specialising in the philosophy of migration, borders and refugees.

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3 Comments

  • Thomas Shakespeare 12th Feb '16 - 6:39pm

    Great work. While Cameron might refuse to help refugees, we can still make a difference.

  • Awful though the Calais and Dunkirk camps sound, there are far worse things going on in refugee camps elsewhere :-

    http://edition.cnn.com/2016/02/11/africa/nigeria-suicide-bombing-boko-haram/

    I wonder why we are not talking about rescuing people from Nigeria. I also wonder why the same people who were saying “what about Beirut?” last November are oblivious to what’s happened in Nigeria this week.

  • suzanne fletcher 20th Feb '16 - 12:46pm

    thanks for going, Bradley and Shas, and sharing this first hand report. thanks also for taking the trouble to make sure you were taking just what was needed, and giving us all the chance to donate to that,
    I am particularly angry over the Authorities not allowing wooden structures. None of us want the camp to need to be there, and there must be proper ways for safe routes for those trapped there, to say nothing of just plain rescuing the children.

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