GRANDE-SYNTHE. PUBLIC AUTHORITIES MUST REESTABLISH ACCESS TO WATER AND SANITATION FOR DISPLACED PEOPLE!
Various NGOs, including Utopia 56, are asking the local government of Grande-Synthe and the prefecture to re-establish access to sufficient sanitation for the displaced people living there. The system put in place during lockdown has now been suddenly removed, with no regard for the law nor for human dignity.
In recent months, at the request of the NGOs, the local government of Grande-Synthe and the Communauté Urbaine de Dunkerque installed a water point and a waste disposal unit at the site where those without accommodation are living. Subsequently, during the Covid-19 epidemic, washing facilities were installed. Access to these facilities was blocked up on the weekend of the 6th of June. This decision is utterly incomprehensible, given how inhumane living conditions in the camps are already.
ACCESS TO WATER IS A BASIC RIGHT
Currently, around 400 displaced people are scattered around Grande-Synthe without shelter. These people are families with young children, men, sometimes elderly, travelling alone, and unaccompanied children without a legal guardian with them. They need to shower, to wash their clothes, to do their washing up, to access toilets and waste bins; these are fundamental rights integral to human dignity as recognized by European and French law.
In 2017, the lack of access to water, to showers and to toilets in the Calais camps was deemed a serious, and blatantly illegal, violation of basic rights. Consequently a decision was made by the Conseil d’État in 2019 to install a water point, toilets, and a shower at the Grande-Synthe site. At the start of June, the administrative tribunal of Paris recognized the failings of the state and of several town councils in providing access to sufficient sanitation provision, and asserted the obligation of these parties to quickly put provisions in place. Médecins du Monde launched a media campaign aiming to expose these inadequacies in Grande-Synthe.
IT MUST NOT BE LEFT TO NGOS TO MAKE UP FOR THE AUTHORITIES FAILINGS
Our grassroots NGO distributes water to the camps in Grande-Synthe five times a week: 30,000 litres since the 4th of May. Access to water far from sufficient, since the water point is so far from the camps that people sometimes have to go several kilometres to reach it.
We never intended our organisations to have to compensate for each and every government shortcoming, and taking on this task has been made even harder by the police’s obstruction and intimidation of volunteers. Elected officials and local governments, beginning with that of Grande-Synthe, should fully accept their responsibility. We ask them to respect the basic of rights of the displaced people living in Grande-Synthe, and to immediately re-establish access to toilets and showers, with separate points for families and for adult men, as well as waste collection points near the camps.
- Utopia 56
- Solidarity Border
- Refugee Women’s Center
- Refugee Rights Europe
- Médecins Du Monde
- Cimade Nord Picardie
- MRAP-littoral dunkerquois
- DROP Solidarité