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Grande-Synthe. One week after the fire, where are we?

April 18, 2017 - 5:40pm

Grande-Synthe. One week after the fire, where are we?

On the night of Monday 10 to Tuesday 11 April, the La Linière camp at Grande-Synthe was destroyed by a fire. In the aftermath, an emergency device was set up by the town hall and the prefecture. As of Monday evening, the inhabitants of the camp were welcomed in three gymnasiums of the Dunkirk area, taking into account the Afghan and Kurdish communities. In total, seven gymnasiums were used for sheltering. On Tuesday, April 18, the last gymnasium closed its doors.


Distributions in gymnasiums

Alongside L’Auberge des migrants, Refugee Community Kitchen and Help Refugees, a Utopia56 field team monitor the situation. From Tuesday, April 11, we distribute donations inside gymnasiums: blankets, dry foods, clothes, shoes, etc. Each gymnasium accommodate up to 350 people and is monitored closely by a large police force and security personnel. During this week, Refugee Community Kitchen prepare more than 6,000 meals, which are then distributed.

On Thursday evening, a “wild” camp is formed at Grande-Synthe. We distribute blankets and food to some 300 people, including children and babies.

Departures in CAO

On Wednesday, a first bus drive refugees to a CAO (welcome and orientation centers). In gymnasiums, isolated minors are mixed with adults. Wounded can not see a doctor. The next day, on Thursday, a child protection team takes care of the minors in the gymnasiums. They are sent to a secret center and we do not know how their minority is determined. In some gymnasiums, OFII tries to convince families to leave in CAO, without specifying their destination. Rumors, announcements, everything blends.

No access to gymnasiums

From Friday, we can’t access to the gymnasiums. The papers recovered from the burnt camp can’t be returned to the refugees, neither distributions, neither confirmation of who had ordered the ban. At the entrance of the buses, we give emergency bags (dry food) to those who leave in CAO. The exiles are forced to get on the buses, without knowing where they are going. These departures by bus continue on Saturday.

Closure of the last gymnasium

Monday, April 17, the last gym closed. On Monday afternoon, some 60 people, including Kurdish families, were still present. We gave hygiene kits. On arriving at the Auchan shopping center, there are about thirty exiles sitting on the pavement. In front of them, three trucks of CRS watch them but they are not under arrest. We distribute food to them after waiting for authorization from the CRS, who were awaiting authorization from the police station.


The Grande-Synthe camp was sheltering 1,700 refugees. Approximately 1,100 have been welcomed in the gymnasiums, many have left in CAO (contact the CAO near you in France by clicking here). This means that many exiles are “in the wild” in Calais and Calaisis. The teams of Utopia 56 remain mobilized. Come as a volunteer on the ground by registering here or make a donation to support us financially.