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Description of health problems and violence endured by refugees during their journey across Europe and in Calais, Nord pas de Calais region, France

  • 2016/03/16
  • Réponse aux Urgences
During 2015, more than one million of refugees had joined the European Union (EU) to seek asylum.
In Calais, in northern France separated by 30 km of the Britain shores, there are around 6000 refugees living in unworthy conditions in an open camp called 'jungle' and trying to join England. Since September 2015 MSF-OCP provides medical and psychological care in the “jungle”.
On their journey, refugees are exposed to diseases related to their living conditions and to violence endured in countries hostile to receive them. This survey proposes a descriptive analysis of refugee’s health status and violence endured during their journey.
We conducted a cross-sectional population survey in November/December 2015; the study population included all individuals residing in the “jungle” during the time of the survey. A geospatial simple random sampling was used. We collected data on demographics, crossed countries, health status, violence and project of life.
In total, 425 people were included in the survey. The inclusion rate was 94.9%. Overall, 95% were male, 33.3% (27.9-39.1) were Sudanese. The median age of the individuals was 25 years (IQR: 21-30). Half of them have a secondary or tertiary education level and mostly come from conflict area in their own country. A rising number of departures from the country of origin was observed in September 2015. The median time of travel is 100 days (41-498). Sixty one percent reported to have encountered at least once a health problem especially in Calais. Problems of access to health care were mostly reported in Libya. Overall, 65.6% (60.3-70.6) coped at least once a violence event: 81.5% of refugees want to go to England, half of them  have a member of family there.
Results of this study are representative of the resident population living in the jungle during the study and are not generalizable to another population or other countries. Refugees who are mostly coming from conflict areas still had to cope violence in the crossed countries and in France. Results of this survey could help strengthening advocacy in countries where MSF is already involved.