Initial briefing about scabies operation

This briefing was given by Medecins du Monde and Medecins sans Frontier who are proposing a large operation to deal with the scabies edipemic which is a serious problem for many of the migrants in Calais, created mainly by the complete lack of basic sanitary conditions. Scabies is a parasite which burrows under the skin and is visible in the form of rashes on the skin, but for many people in Calais has developed into something that can look like boils and is irritable.

Several Calaisien humanitarian associations attended the meeting, and people from No Borders, which was not expected but welcomed. NB people expressed their fear that the scabies treatment operation could be used not only to clean the ‘jungles’ but to clear them too.

The operation was outlined as 17-21 August, with a temporary tent camp being set up near the lighthouse by Calais North post office. Around 46 volunteers will be needed, with a debrief every evening on how things are going. Shifts will be:

9.30 until 2.00 and 2.00 until 6.30

Travel costs from Paris and Lille will be paid, and food and accommodation provided.

Despite requests for two unused hospitals in Calais to be opened, there has been no support offered from Calais town or Pay-de-Calais region.

Treatment will consist of:

–         4 pills/day

–         clothes

–         disinfect sleeping areas in ‘jungles’

They need to know where and how many migrants there are.

There will be 6 different tents in the treatment camp

  1. welcome and explain
  2. take old clothes, treat, in sealed bags for 24 hours. They are looking for 1000 sets of new clothes
  3. showers – need nurses to explain disinfection procedure and to screen if have scabies or not
  4. Although it is unsure what exactly these steps are at the moment, there are 6 nurses, 2 welcome people and translator needed at step 4. Step 5 needs 3 nurses, welcome people and a translator.
  5. get new clothes and blankets and personal sanitary stuff and sleeping bags

46 volunteers needed in total

Will have 3 vehicles, 9 places in each. Vehicles will need disinfecting each time. Still a risk of reinfection.

Will work through mosque and immams to explain process

Communication with press – MdM and MSF suspicous of press, happy for all associations to communicate with press in their own name.

Concerns of No Borders at the meeting and in discussion afterwards:

–         why haven’t migrants been involved from the start?

–         Reinfection possible when people return to ‘jungles’ – the Pashtun ‘jungle’ has up to 800 people there, can’t treat all in one day, only about 1/3 so how prevent people mixing and reinfecting?

–         What are the side effects of pills – people have several other health issues

–         What is get double treatment, for example visiting PASS clinic for scabies before MdM? To deal with this they want PASS to stop scabies treatments one week before.

–         Belle Etoile insisted MdM and MSF state that they are doing this week of treatment because national government has not kept up their responsibilities, not because migrants are ‘diseased’ and we very much agree with this