British solidarity with Calais refugees

This video from Britain says about itself:

4 September 2016

Rita Ora, Jamie Cullum, Neil Gaiman, Ben Elton, Shinghai Shoniwa & Bella Freud are just a few leading lights coming together to say “we’ve got refugenes” – have you? See their full #refugenes stories at

To help millions of refugees still in need today.

By Lamiat Sabin in Britain:

Stand with refugees

Tuesday 6th September 2016

Britain and France collude to rob people of even their shanty town Jungle camp, but ordinary Britons vow to stand with refugees

AN EMERGENCY demo will be held to protest against calls made yesterday by Calais citizens to demolish the Jungle refugee camp.

The event, organised by Trade Unionists for Calais and Stand Up to Racism, will take place outside the French embassy in central London at 7pm tomorrow.

Calais shop owners, lorry drivers, dock workers and farmers are planning a blockade of the A16 motorway out of the port town to try to force French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve to close the squalid camp, home to some 9,000 people.

Mr Cazeneuve visited the semi-demolished site on Friday and said that the rest of the demolition would proceed with “great determination.”

But he has yet to announce plans about the future of the refugees. Eight hundred of them are children, 700 of them unaccompanied, according to a census by Help Refugees.

British Home Secretary Amber Rudd was urged yesterday by MPs on both sides of the Commons to tackle the issue of unaccompanied children at the camp seeking asylum.

Mandy Brown of Trade Unionists for Calais said: “Instead of offering security to the victims of war, poverty and oppression, the British and French governmentsalong with the right-wing press — are colluding to scapegoat them.

“They are blaming the refugees for many ills of our societies, so it’s no surprise that some ordinary French people also draw the mistaken conclusion that refugees are the problem.”

The British government should live up to its responsibilities and act on Lord Dubs’s amendment to the Immigration Bill that would grant asylum to unaccompanied children, the campaigners said.

Demolition of the camp without provision of alternative accommodation for the refugees would be a “recipe for disaster,” said Refugee Information Bus, which offers free wifi, access to technology, legal information and workshops for refugees at the camp.

Rowan Farrell of the charity said: “The jungle is a squalid shanty town. It breaks every humanitarian standard going, largely because the French state refuses to acknowledge that it even is a refugee camp.

“The conditions here are deplorable — but there is no alternative offered.”

The flow of refugees from the world’s trouble spots continues. Thousands of refugees, including five-day-old twins, were rescued in the Mediterranean last week having set out from Libya on 20 tiny overcrowded wooden boats as they made a desperate attempt to reach Europe.

The haunting images came just over a year after a shocking photo was published of three-year-old Alan Kurdi, who drowned off the Turkish coast after his family decided to flee Syria.

Stand Up to Racism joint secretary Weyman Bennett said: “One year on from the heartrending discovery of tiny Aylan drowned on a beach, the situation for refugees is deteriorating fast.”

Grassroots organisation Help Refugees launched a campaign called Refugenes yesterday to highlight the contributions refugees make to society.

An online short film features pop-culture figures whose families arrived in Britain as refugees or were refugees themselves. They include singers Rita Ora and Jamie Cullum, writer Ben Elton and fashion designer and novelist Bella and Esther Freud.

Help Refugees co-founder Lliana Bird, whose grandmother was a refugee from Russia, said the campaign seeks to “show refugees in a different light” because “too often they are portrayed as a burden on society.”

13 thoughts on “British solidarity with Calais refugees

  1. Tuesday 6th September 2016

    posted by Morning Star in Editorial

    THE 9000 refugees crammed into the infamous “Jungle” camp at Calais need our help.
    The blockade launched by local business owners, hauliers and farmers yesterday made headlines mainly for the inconvenience it caused to British holidaymakers.
    Few gave a thought to the effect of this intimidation on the desperate people — including nearly a thousand children — holed up in the camp.
    From the start the attitudes of the French and British governments toward the refugee crisis have been a disgrace.
    The Conservatives have sought to shut our doors on anyone seeking asylum in this country, even voting against providing a safe haven for unaccompanied child refugees until a concerted Labour fightback forced a U-turn.
    The French authorities have hampered efforts to get humanitarian aid into the camp — blocking entry for the Convoy to Calais organised by Stand Up to Racism and the People’s Assembly, for example — and bear a heavy responsibility for the squalid conditions there.
    Refugee Information Bus spokesman Rowan Farrell points out that the “shanty town” squatted on the border of two of the world’s richest countries “breaks every humanitarian standard going because the French state refuses to acknowledge that it is even a refugee camp.”
    What action has been taken has made things worse — with French police demolishing the southern part of the camp in February, for instance, halving the space available. Since then the number trapped in the Jungle has tripled.
    Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve hints that his visit this week may precede the destruction of the rest. But what would such a pointless act of brutality solve?
    With residents lacking sufficient food, clean water, healthcare and sanitation it is hardly surprising if crime rates are rising. Shopkeepers complaining of stolen goods and lorry drivers who say their vehicles have been damaged are not lying.
    But the mobs baying for the residents to be sent home must be confronted, not appeased. The Jungle is a symptom, not a cause, of the flow of refugees into Europe.
    The reason people hand everything they possess to unscrupulous smugglers and put their lives on the line to reach Europe, risking nightmarish sea crossings in rickety, overcrowded boats, trekking for hundreds and thousands of miles across unfamiliar country only to meet police brutality and racist prejudice, is that their worlds at home have been torn apart.
    The bulk of refugees come from war-torn countries including Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. Britain has played a significant role in all those conflicts and France in most of them. Our responsibility to help the victims of the carnage we have unleashed could not be more obvious.
    But the flash of compassion so many felt when images of drowned Syrian three-year-old Alan Kurdi went viral one year ago has been replaced by a tide of bigotry and intolerance.
    The France where motorways are blocked by protesters demanding the demolition of the Jungle is the same country that last month saw armed police force a Muslim woman to undress at gunpoint because she failed to dress “correctly” on a beach.
    Racist attacks have been on the rise this side of the Channel too, with the murder of Arkadiusz Jozwik in Harlow the most chilling recent example.
    Theresa May has built her career on scapegoating immigrants. We cannot look to our government to turn things around.
    It is up to us, the labour movement, to take action. All pressure must be brought to bear to force ministers to take their obligations to the refugees at Calais seriously.
    And we must organise to smash the scourge of racism in our own communities.


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  3. Tuesday, 20 September 2016

    2,500 refugees’ lifejackets placed outside parliament

    OVER 2,500 lifejackets were placed on the lawn outside parliament, in Parliament Square yesterday, each representing the life of a refugee man, woman or child who braved the dangerous Mediterranean sea fleeing from the horror of war.

    More than 7,000 refugees have drowned in the sea while trying to reach either Greece or Italy since the start of this year, an increase of some 50 per cent on the same period in 2015.

    Joe Murphy, who helped set up the Parliament Square display told News Line: ‘Each one of these jackets represents a human life. We brought all these lifejackets from Kent this morning and they will be here until this evening.

    ‘The thousands of lifejackets you see here have come from Greece and have been used by refugees.’ The demonstration was planned to coincide with UN summit in New York on the refugee crisis.

    Tory PM Theresa May addressed the summit, launching a fresh war on refugees, calling for a clear distinction to be made between refugees and ‘economic migrants’. She went on to demand that refugees must claim asylum in the first country they reach, adding for good measure that nations ‘have a right to control their borders.’

    The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants said: ‘Theresa May’s comments on refugees are a disappointing demonstration of Britain turning its back on the humanitarian crisis currently facing the world.

    ‘Her comments show a complete disregard for the reality facing refugees fleeing for their lives and trying to find safety in Europe. Despite daily evidence of violence and warfare killing civilians, she implies that people coming to Europe are not seeking safety but rather are economic migrants.’

    Saira Grant, Chief Executive, the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, said: ‘The UK received only 3% of Europe’s asylum claims, itself a tiny number compared to refugees hosted in the poorest regions of the world. We are nowhere near meeting our targets even for resettling the 20,000 refugees we have promised.

    ‘Unravelling the Mediterranean Migration Crisis’ (MEDMIG) project, a report whose findings will be presented at the UN summit today, identifies the reasons why refugees have fled from their homes to make the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean. Researchers interviewed 500 refugees about their experiences.

    Their results of the study highlight:

    • Eighty-eight per cent of those arriving in Greece via the Eastern Mediterranean route said that they left their homes because of persecution, violence, death threats or human rights abuse.
    • Of this group, more than a quarter said the ‘Islamic State’ group (IS) played a significant part in their decision to leave, with many being detained, tortured or forced to watch beheadings.
    • Sixty-six per cent of those arriving in Italy mentioned factors that could be described as ‘forced migration’ including violence, death threats and religious persecution.
    • Those from West and East Africa most commonly left because of the threat posed by militia groups and terrorist organisations or indefinite forced conscription in Eritrea.
    • Over 75 per cent of those who crossed via Libya experienced physical violence, and over a quarter spoke of experiences related to the death of fellow travellers.


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