Adventist Journal Online | Refugees stranded in northern France find ADRA a helping hand

 Adventist Journal Online |  Refugees stranded in northern France find ADRA a helping hand

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15 avril 2021

The local chapter of the Adventist humanitarian agency provides hot meals, essential items.

A The local branch of the Agence Adventiste de Développement et de Secours (ADRA) in France continues to serve food and other provisions in what some have described as “one of the worst refugee camps in Europe” . ADRA Dunkirk, a local branch of ADRA France, was founded in 2012 to support the growing number of refugees in the region.

At that time, other humanitarian organizations were helping the refugees, but when they discovered that no one was distributing food on Sundays, ADRA leaders decided to intervene. “Right away, we made a commitment to address this need,” local ADRA leaders said. They also partnered with other organizations, asking how they could help.

“We were a small Adventist community in Dunkirk, but we decided to take action and create a [ADRA] », Declared Claudette Hannebicque, director of ADRA Dunkerque. “We held the first meeting and realized that immediate action was needed.” Hannebicque recounted how the following Sunday ADRA volunteers distributed tea and homemade food, and they continued to do the same for weeks. “We didn’t have the funds, but that didn’t stop us,” she said. “We have organized fairs and flea markets to raise funds to continue our work.” Later, the nearby town of Grande-Synthe gave ADRA a grant to purchase most of the supplies. “When it comes to cooking supplies, our van repair or distribution equipment, we rely on donations,” Hannebicque said.

ADRA Dunkirk helped other agencies such as Médecins Sans Frontières (Médecins Sans Frontières) to open a humanitarian camp for refugees in 2016. There, the ADRA team worked in partnership with many other associations to improve conditions. life of the exiles. Unfortunately, this camp burned down a year later. Several years later, the situation of the refugees is still uncertain, with living conditions often unhealthy.

Over the years, local governments have dismantled, resettled and relocated these camps in the region. ADRA is committed to going where the people are, often under the A16 motorway bridges en route to Calais (then England).

Nearly twenty associations operate within an inter-association grouping to meet the needs of refugees. A local town hall has set up water points and dry toilets. Twice a week, an association organizes showers. Various associations, including ADRA, are still distributing provisions. “We take care of breakfast on Thursday morning and cook a hot meal on Sunday noon,” Hannebicque said. “We also regularly distribute clothing and hygiene products.”

Hannebicque reported that in recent times they have received more donations but refugees continue to arrive. “Shoes and warm clothes, for example, are extremely important items that we always need.”

ADRA has also installed a generator so that refugees can recharge their phones, often the only way to stay in touch with loved ones.

It is estimated that at least 400 refugees are in the vicinity of Dunkirk. Many are waiting for the opportunity to cross to England, either by truck or on a small boat.

The pandemic has made everything more difficult, Hannebicque reported. “Doctors are visiting settlements to take people suspected of having COVID-19 to nearby hospitals,” she explained. “There were a few cases but not an explosion as some feared. “

Hannebicque said their mission was heartbreaking. “We feel helpless,” she said. “We are waiting for the day when God will put an end to all this suffering.”

the original version of this story was published on the Inter-European Division news site.

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