MAASTRICHT. They had raised €4300 and collected sixty boxes of clothes, blankets, pillows, shoes and sleeping bags to transport to the refugee camp in Calais. Then the French authorities dismantled the ‘Jungle’. Right in exam week, too, says law student Angelica Giombini, one of the four Italian students who organised the initiative.
“While the camp was being cleared we still could have helped; there was demand for all kinds of things. It was total chaos, especially since the registration and the destruction of the camp went hand in hand, as we heard from the local voluntary organisations [L’auberge des migrants and Help Refugees].”
What now? The students intend to head to Calais anyway, leaving early next week. The image of an entirely empty camp is misleading, says Giombini. “A lot of refugees were left behind because there were too few places to relocate them to. Others left the day before the French authorities came, only to come back later, determined as ever to make it to England. There’s also still a small camp near Dunkirk. So there’s still plenty of demand for everything.”
The students plan to spend five days in Calais, distributing supplies and doing voluntary work such as cooking. They are still open to donations of goods and money, says Giombini. “We want to expand the project to refugees in general, and perhaps send students out in shifts to places where they’re most needed.”