France: New quarters for the Grande-Synthe camp

The new site developed by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is ready to welcome migrants and refugees who were living in the mud and cold at the Basroch camp in Grande-Synthe, France. The move to the new site, on the outskirts of Grande-Synthe, begins today and will continue for several more days.  This operation is being carried out jointly with the municipality of Grande-Synthe. The goal is to provide shelter where the refugees can stay dry under more acceptable living conditions.  

The residents at the Basroch camp were notified of the move some time ago. MSF cultural mediators initially explained that there will be no access controls at the camp and that people will be free to come and go.  “This camp must not be a closed camp,” emphasized André Jincq, MSF deputy program manager. The mediators also told them that at the new site - the Linière camp - they will be housed in wooden shelters. Each “neighborhood” will have sanitary facilities with toilets and showers with hot water.  

This response was intended to meet refugees’ basic needs, but MSF felt that it was equally important to improve community living areas. Local associations assisting the refugees are thus setting up kitchens, a school, and a playground, as the Grande-Synthe camp’s population includes many families and approximately 100 children.  

While MSF designed the camp, the organization will not manage it. Other groups can take on that job and the mayor’s office in Grande-Synthe has chosen one. “We built this site to ease a crisis situation in which the government has refused to intervene,” Jincq explained.

Given the French government’s inaction, the mayor of Grande-Synthe had asked MSF for help in December to address the influx of migrants and refugees into the area.  MSF responded by improving the sanitation infrastructure and providing medical care in the Basroch camp. In January, MSF’s logistics teams began work at the Linière site. Now that that work is complete, the group will focus on providing medical care and monitoring vulnerable individuals. It will offer consultations, nursing care, and mental health care in rooms outfitted in existing buildings at the site.