French State Takeover: Changes in Dunkirk


As you know, since early March we have been acting in Grande Synthe camp, the first camp in France with the UNHCR standards. Since its beginning, we have supported this project launched by the city council and Doctors Without Borders, thinking that its success would allow the creation of another one, even a model to welcome refugees with dignity.

Yesterday, Anne Hidalgo, Paris mayor, announced that a camp on the model of Grande Synthe’s will be created. We had met her teams a few weeks before and we are delighted with this new initiative.

Her declaration occurred after that the State had taken over the management of Grande Synthe camp on monday. And many people are wondering what we are going to do from now on.

We are going to keep throwing ourselves in Grande Synthe where Utopia 56’s volunteers are still needed and necessary to deal with the laundry, the community kitchens, the deliveries, the cleaning and etc.

Furthermore, some volunteers are going to return to Calais where the situation has deteriorated for the last few months.

We invite you to read the release we  published on the occasion of Bernard Cazeneuve’s visit in Grande-Synthe and to discover volunteers’ accounts who tell how it is to act on the ground.

Press release, May 30, 2016




Our association has been organising 2700 volunteering days a month on this camp and carries on doing it today.

We are proud to have participated to the opening of the first camp in France who treats refugees as human beings and welcomes them with dignity.

We are particularly proud of the volunteers who worked day and night to help the security commission of March 25th to be passed.

We thank Grande Synthe city council and Doctors Without Borders for giving the associations the place they deserve in this project. The associations are independent and will stay watchful concerning the way refugees are going to be treated here.

Indeed, we are asking ourselves questions concerning the future of the camp. The convention which was signed today contains grey areas. How is it possible to prevent newcomers from settling? How is it possible to consider the total closure of the camp while the migratory crisis will get bigger? Will the State and the associations responsible for the application of the state policy be able to cope without the brutality that we have seen in Calais?

The families who have come here want to go to England and won’t go to any CAO. What are the alternatives if the camp gets closed? To return in the mud? Please let’s be realistic!

This camp was bound to be “a normal district of Grande Synthe”, had told us Damien Carème. We hope that his promise will be kept and that the camp will stay a free-access one for refugees.

To finish, we take advantage of the opportunity to launch a new call for donations and volunteers on the website Refugees need us and we need all the good wills. The State mistakenly thinks that the public opinion is not ready to welcome with dignity refugees while respecting their dreams concerning the future.

Grazia on Help Refugees