Last week the settlement in Dunkirk faced its largest eviction in three months. The population of around 800 people were disturbed by excessive amounts of police officers, destroying shelters and confiscating personal belongings. After four hours, the main camp in Dunkirk was completely demolished, with barely a sign that fewer than 24 hours before there was a bustling and diverse community residing there.
Many of the members of this community did not have the opportunity to leave on the buses usually provided by the state and were simply ushered onto the streets of the surrounding suburb. After wandering for several hours, once the police operation had completed, people returned close to the same site and have settled again in an adjacent field.
Despite the stressful and turbulent nature of the situation, the spirits of this community remain high, with people quick to once again begin building the various public spaces that they constructed before such as large makeshift shelters and restaurants.
Our team were on-site with the community from the early afternoon, once the police clearance had finished. After driving around the local area to inform the small pockets of people dotted around of the new site, we set up our usual standard services as well as performing a mass distribution of blankets and tarpaulin, to grant everyone who lost their belongings with the most basic of necessities. We managed to distribute close to 500 of these items to an extremely grateful community.
As the weeks continue, we will be able to replace most of the material that was taken or destroyed, and thanks to the arrival of tents purchased generously on our behalf by WorldChangers, we will retain a healthy stock level heading into winter.
With a week having already passed since this operation, we have noticed that the levels of new arrivals have only continued to increase with no signs of slowing. This is putting huge pressure on ourselves to not only replace what has been taken, but also equip those currently arriving with nothing.