Dunkirk, France. A raging fire has left numerous refugees and migrants homeless and without refugee, exposed to the elements. While amazingly none are believed to have died, hundreds are missing in the French countryside, their whereabouts unknown. Hundreds of refugees and migrants are missing and facing a night in the open after a large fire ripped through the Dunkirk camp where they were living, destroying the wooden huts and leaving the site uninhabitable.
French Officials spent Tuesday trying to find new shelter for the estimated 1,500 people who had been displaced. Officials are concerned the destruction of France’s only official migrant camp will result in asylum seekers returning to sleeping in the open along the coast near the Channel ports.
The French interior minister, Matthias Fekl, said the government would not allow it to be rebuilt. The housing minister, Emmanuelle Cosse, said more permanent shelter would be found in centers around the country over the next few days. Some will be taken to temporary shelter at a sports hall in the nearby town of Grande-Synthe, but charities were struggling to account for all of them.
Corenne Torre,a French doctor, said 900 people had been evacuated to safe shelters, including local gyms, but about 600 remained unaccounted for, stating “We just don’t know where they are.”
Yvette Cooper chair of the home affairs committee, said: “We have warned for months about the dangerous Dunkirk camp, the violent and unsafe conditions and the huge risks for children stuck there alone without parents or guardians. Yet neither the French nor the British government have done anything to sort it out. They have turned a blind eye for too long to this dangerous camp and the repeated warnings that vulnerable children and teenagers were on their own at risk of violence, exploitation, trafficking and abuse.”