On the 5th November 2002, the French government ordered the closure of the Red Cross centre, located in Sangatte, which provided shelter for migrants in the Calais area.
Most of them were thus condemned to live in the street, just before the beginning of winter.
Several volunteers got together at the time to organize distributions of food and clothes, and they founded the charity “SALAM”.
Since then, a constant stream of migrants has continued to arrive in Calais, many of whom stay on our coast. This is why a branch of SALAM has also been set up in the Dunkirk area.
SALAM is now a large organisation with more than 100 active volunteers and almost 300 adherents. It is financed by members’ contributions, donations and grants.
Main activities :
- Preparation and distribution of meals : a breakfast is served in Calais every morning in the camps ; meals are served every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday in the camp near Dunkirk.
- Assistance with emergency health care and hygiene
- Accommodation support
- Aid with applications for asylum seekers
- Communication to the general public about the situation of refugees along our coast
- Action against all forms of racism and discrimination
- Action to help populations of countries in difficulties
- Provision of legal assistance to SALAM members
The migrants :
Their reasons for leaving their countries of origin : Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Kurdistan, Iraq, Eritrea, Sudan, Palestine, Somalia, etc… are very similar : insecurity, armed conflict….
They are mainly young, single men, strong enough to face the huge difficulties of the long journey which will take them where they want to go (the United Kingdom, mostly).
Migrants’ families, who remain in the country of origin, club together and get into debt in order to send their sons to Europe. They hope for better living conditions for these young people, once they have reached their destination, found a job and paid their debts.
The migrants come from varying social and cultural backgrounds, and have different religions. We have met mechanics, hairdressers and manual workers, as well as doctors, journalists and students.
We also have to deal with women, children, and even whole families.