SOLIDAR Study visit to Calais, France

The second SOLIDAR Study visit took place in Calais, France on 10 and 11 October. The study visit brought together 18 members of the SOLIDAR Social Affairs Forum from nine different countries.  Hosted by SOLIDAR member La Ligue de l’Enseignement, the event was an opportunity to gain a better understanding of the conditions in which organisations and associations are working to combat the exclusion of migrants and guarantee humanitarian aid. The work of these organisations and associations is therefore vital owing to the shortcomings of local and national authorities in the management and inclusion of migrants. Their strength and efforts are essential in the fight against the “criminalisation of solidarity”, and for enhancing the concrete and long term integration of migrants.  

The event was divided into four main sessions:

  • Visit to the warehouse Auberge des Migrants. This warehouse welcomes between 30 and 70 volunteers every day. They organise and manage the preparation of meals and material donations, before distributing them in the camps of northern France or in the streets of Calais.
  • Meeting with the operators of the Plateforme de Service aux Migrants, a network of associations promoting the development of the knowledge of migratory routes, cultural origins and practices, the difficulties related to life in the “jungle” by the intervention of sociologists, ethno-psychiatrists, supporting other associations in their relations with the social system and administrations, fighting against sheltering and raising awareness of the migrants’ conditions in the zone.
  • Thematic roundtables with local associations and operators to step up the exchange of positions, experience and good practices between local actors and SOLIDAR members on the topic.
  • SOLIDAR Migration Task force meeting, setting the main objectives and the next steps and activities of the advisory group on migration and integration.

More details are in the attached activity report of the event.

The Study visit took place in Calais to better understand and learn from the work that La Ligue de l’Enseignement together with other CSOs has done to promote social inclusion for migrants abandoned by the State. The Study visit showcased the essential role of CSOs as much as the need for social investment in Calais and Europe.  Calais also represents the extent of social exclusion to which the criminalisation of solidarity can lead, and why it is crucial to continue learning from this experience and advocating for SOLIDARity.