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Infant feeding in Dunkirk Refugee camp

This question was posted the Infant and young child feeding interventions forum area and has 10 replies.

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Maddie McMahon

Breastfeeding Counsellor

Normal user

1 Apr 2017, 18:45

I am a Breastfeeding Counsellor volunteering with the Calais and Dunkirk Infant Feeding Team, which is an informal grouping of Breastfeeding Counsellors from a couple of the British lay breastfeeding support charities - there are currently just 3 of us.

We have visited the camp on a number of occasions but we are currently in an untenable position - unable to visit without either flatly refusing to follow the infant feeding guidance laid down by the French midwives volunteering in camp or else break our own Codes of Conduct (ABM and LLL).

We are desperately seeking advocacy support to help us communicate with the NGO Gynecologie Sans Frontieres, which appears unable to understand our concerns and who refuse to follow international standards for infant and young child feeding in emergencies.

An explanation of the situation can be read on my blog here: https://thebirthhub.co.uk/2017/03/02/midwives-dunkirk-refugee-camp-refuse-follow-international-best-practice/

Is there anything you might be able to do to help?

Kind regards,

Maddie McMahon
Lindsey Middlemiss
Katy Lockey
Calais and Dunkirk Infant Feeding Team

Christine Fernandes

IYCF-E Advisor

Normal user

3 Apr 2017, 07:27

Thank you, Maddie, for flagging this. Although Save the Children are no longer programming in Calais, we are currently investigating this matter with other stakeholders and will send an update as soon as we can.

Maddie McMahon

Breastfeeding Counsellor

Normal user

3 Apr 2017, 07:59

Thank you Christine.

Laura

Women's health Advisor

Normal user

4 Apr 2017, 13:03

Hi,

Kerstin passed this message to me and I am happy to help you. I want to know if you need help in communication/advocacy/strategies? Who is going to be your audience?
Let me know!

Laura
Midwife, Medical Advisor
MSF OCP

Maddie McMahon

Breastfeeding Counsellor

Normal user

4 Apr 2017, 13:49

Hello Laura,

We need people to intervene with the GSF midwives and their management to persuade them to embrace better infant feeding practices. We are just 2 Breastfeeding Counsellors in the UK with no resources, no ability to impress on them the importance of changing their practice and no power to require them to educate themselves. You can see from their comments under my blog that they appear not to be able to understand the issues.

I am posting on here in the hope that someone, somewhere will be important and influential enough to intervene on our behalf. All we want to do is continue the work we were doing - visiting the camp, sitting with mothers and helping them with their breastfeeding and training the volunteers in the Women's Centre, who usually have no infant feeding expertise at all.

I hope that clarifies things!

Many thanks

Maddie x
ABM BFC

Bindi Borg

University of Sydney

Normal user

4 Apr 2017, 20:03

Is it possible to have an institutional intervention, such as a letter or contact from UNHCR, UNICEF, WHO, Red Cross, ENN, IBLCE, or similar? It doesn't mean that GSF will be open to that, but at least they will know that it's not just some individual breastfeeding counsellors on their case. Even better if it could be an organisation with a French chapter or HQ. Maybe UNICEF France (the French Committee for UNICEF) would be willing to communicate to the GSF. Action Contre La Faim would be another great option, or maybe Medicins Sans Frontiers.

Maddie McMahon

Breastfeeding Counsellor

Normal user

5 Apr 2017, 11:36

Wonderful ideas Bindi and exactly why I posted here. We are hoping that there are some poeple here with enough influence and good enough contacts to arrange such 'high up' intervention.

Anonymous 2339

Health & Nutrition Advisor

Normal user

5 Apr 2017, 17:12

I hope you guys have formally informed the Nutrition Cluster in the area, if no then the first step is to inform the cluster. This is the responsibility of the cluster to take due actions if something is happening in contradiction to the code/standards.

Maddie McMahon

Breastfeeding Counsellor

Normal user

5 Apr 2017, 17:40

Thank you for your reply. Respectfully I ask, what is a nutrition cluster?! And how would we go about contacting them?!

We are posting on here in the hope of getting some practical, expert help. Please understand, Breastfeeding Counsellors are trained to help women breastfeed, that is all. We are not big, important people. We do not have powerful, influential contacts and we are not trained or experienced in this kind of thing. We just stepped in to volunteer to help mothers in the camp and didn't ask for this situation and have no idea how to solve it.

We are are learning a lot, but please understand, we are hoping that someone will step up and actually join us so we can start attracting the attention of people who can step in and make practical improvements in camp and help us find and implement solutions.

Thanks so much.

Jennifer Y

Epidemiologist

Normal user

5 Apr 2017, 19:24

Please contact Nurture Project International. They have dealt with this issue in other camps. Contact info at www.nurtureprojectinternational.org

Amirhossein Yarparvar

Regional H and N Specialist UNICEF CEE-CIS RO

Normal user

18 Apr 2017, 09:22

UNICEF has followed up the issue through the UNICEF NatCom office in France. Our Field experts and consultant has given a field visit to the area. Unfortunately the camp must have been resettled now, due to a fire event recently, but regardless of the location for the new settlement, the optimum IYCF for the target population is UNICEF's main principle for action.

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