THE BLOG

An Update From Calais And The Refugee Community Kitchen

22/09/2017 10:57

A few months ago I wrote about the work of Refugee Community Kitchen, a charity in Calais responsible for providing food to the hundreds of refugees in and around the city and Dunkirk.
Since 2015 RCK has prepared, cooked, and delivered almost 600,000 meals. They serve hot, nourishing food daily, and like most of the refugee charities in Calais, they rely entirely on donations and volunteers. Though much of the world's media has stopped reporting on Calais, the situation remains ever fluid with more desperate people arriving every day, with nowhere to go.
Because of this fluidity, it remains ever important to shine a light on the work of RCK and the evolving situation in Calais to keep the growing number of refugees ever fed.

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Lately, their work has been complicated quite significantly by the need to construct a new kitchen. I was there when health inspectors visited the kitchen in July, their report stated that the kitchen
required radical changes or else face closure. Their visit came less from concern for the health and food quality for the refugees, but from a secret desire to make the work of the RCK and charities like it impossible. The authorities in Calais and the surrounding regions want to rid themselves of Refugees. Their attempts to do so have been incredibly aggressive, many refugees have reported that their beds have been destroyed by the local police, sometimes many times a week.
Harassment is common, and on top of this, they live without basic sanitation.

Despite this intense pressure and scrutiny, Refugee Community Kitchen prepares over two thousand meals a day It is as RCK co-founder Janie Mack has said:

"The (French) government, what they've done by destroying the jungle is they've just made it
logistically harder for us...They can make it as hard as they like; if there are people out there that need feeding, we will feed them. And we will find them. And we will let them know that we're not going to let them starve."

In most situations, were any other organisation faced with such immediate and radical restructuring, they would close until such reconstruction was complete. But in this case, any closure, even for a day (since 2015, the RCK has not missed even a single day of service) would mean that several hundred refugees would go without food. But the Refugee Community Kitchen and its volunteers have worked tirelessly to ensure this does not happen.

In many ways though, Refugee Community Kitchen has always been threatened. It lives through the generosity of those who donate either their time, their money, or food and would die if this well of generosity was to dry, If the cars and vans of food stop, if people stop donating their money (this is a particular problem, RCK is currently extremely low on funds) if the volunteers cease to come. Then RCK would essentially be forced to stop functioning.

This has not happened yet and may never happen, yet the threat lingers. As media coverage, and with it, the world's attention moves further and further away from Calais, there is a real effect on the number of volunteers and donations that come.

Some might be mistaken for thinking the situation in Calais is relatively settled, but they would be mistaken. The situation in Calais is worse than it has ever been.

Since the demolition of The Jungle, many smaller camps have arisen and serve as distribution points for RCK, and Help Refugees, however, these camps lack the facilities which were once in The Jungle which at its height had a number of shops, social areas, and even a basic library).

Because of this the lives of the Calais refugees are now much harder and become harder still as numbers of refugees increase and numbers of volunteers and donations decrease.

It is unknown what the future of the Refugee Crisis in Calais will be, equally unknown is the future of RCK. But so long as there are people to be fed, the (cut 'the') RCK will be there to feed them, as long as they are able.

You can support the RCK in whatever ways are possible for you by going to
refugeecommunitykitchen.com

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