Cemaliye Semmedi ’17

Project TitleRefugee Crisis in France
Other Student Participants – Harang Jung ’17, Michael Mora Brenes ’17, Memé Salazar Rodriguez ’17
Mentor – Glenda Nieto Cuebas

In the midst of all the fast-pace political outbreaks, one can easily overlook the ordeals individuals face as a consequence of the eruption. As discomforting as it may be to confront these issues, one must continuously dissect the problems through humanitarian lenses.

Our group focused on the challenges encountered by Middle Eastern and African refugees during their assimilation in Europe, more specifically in France. At the height of this crisis, many organizations have set up camps for the refugees. Unfortunately, many refugees still found themselves either in camps that did not meet humanitarian standards or in the streets. Moreover, as the crisis lingered with no major solution proposed, many of these camps were shut down by the French government - ’The Jungle’ in Calais was one of them. When ‘The Jungle’ was demolished, 3,500 refugees found themselves dispersed all over France. Many individuals were either relocated to other refugee camps in Paris or Dunkerque or were left to live on the streets.

Care for Calais (Calais) and Utopia 56 (Paris) are two organizations that remained to provide direct aid to the refugees who were still seeking asylum. In December 2016, we volunteered at these two organizations to distribute warm clothes, sleeping bags, tents, toiletries and food to those living on the streets. We also visited detention centers to check on the fair treatment of refugees and visited camp locations to renovate their shelters. By doing so, we had the opportunity to hear their incredible hardships and hopes in life. As we interacted with this international crisis on a personal level, it became clear to us that one of the worst consequences of political instability is the violation of individual human rights.