Several dozen tents and tarpaulins have been installed in the Bois de Grande-Synthe (North), located near a shopping area. The people who live in the camp “settled near the paths to escape the mud, which can be found inside the forest”, explains Arnaud, member of the Utopia 56 association. He regularly marauds to help to people “who survive here”, around 500 migrants. There is a very strong smell of burnt plastic: “Often people are forced to burn their clothes to warm up.” The cold these days is severe, the temperatures felt go down to -16 degrees, the North is one of the four departments classified in orange vigilance “great cold”.
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A little further away, some associations distribute food, where the only water point has been set up. Six taps are available for 500 people. “The taps have been frozen for two days, so it’s only a pipe that goes directly over the ground that is not insulated”, laments Arnaud.
“As soon as you have a temperature below zero degrees, there is no water flowing.”Arnaud, member of the Utopia 56 association
No way to drink, and difficult to cook. Under a tarp, this man tries to cook eggs, but they are completely frozen. Behind him is the tent of 17-year-old Niaz. The teenager arrived in the camp two weeks ago. “It’s too cold, I can’t sleep for two days, it’s too hard”, he breathes.
The Northern Prefecture has opened 170 accommodation places, but they are not at all suitable, according to Ludivine, member of the Utopia 56 association. “Nobody goes there, because people are afraid, she confides, because it is very far from the crossing points, because the influence of the smuggling networks is also very strong. “
“Maybe losing your place here in the camp means losing your place to get into a boat.”Ludivine, member of the Utopia 56 association
All have only one goal : cross the Channel to reach England. Ahmed tried his luck on Tuesday. He says he spent six hours in a truck, and his shoes froze.
The associations demand the establishment of accommodation without reception conditions, open 24 hours a day. They also hope for the end of the dismantling operations, during which the police seize the blankets and tents.