Channel 4 News from 27/02/2016
See the work of RAPAR with young Afghan men in the Jungle/Calais on Channel 4 news.
Help the children of Calais and sign this open letter to the Prime Minister
"The French authorities have announced plans to begin demolishing large sections of the Jungle in Calais on the 22nd of February. There are over 5,000 people in the camp and only 1,500 spaces for them to move to.
We don’t want the Jungle to last for a single minute longer than it has to. But as the authorities clear the camp they must ensure that refugee children are protected – reunited with their families in Britain where possible and entered into child protection in France where not.
Over 100 major public figures have written this open letter to the Prime Minister. Add your name to the urgent call to David Cameron here below. Please also donate to the refugee children’s fund via our friends at Help Refugees. All funds raised go straight to either humanitarian support for refugee minors or to identifying children seeking to be reunited with their loved ones and ensuring they get the legal support they need."
Link to sign here:
The Declaration Petition can be signed at: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/show-solidarity-with-refugees-uk-calais-and-europe
Greater Manchester Stand Up To Racism
Video of Calais Report Back meeting, 16 January 2016
Watch it here
Press Release 19th January 2016
Download it here
NORTH WEST MEP CALLS ON UK GOVERNMENT TO LET CALAIS CAMP REFUGEES INTO BRITAIN
Press Release - for immediate release
Thursday 17th December 2015. Pictures attached
North West MEP Julie Ward, along with Bury councillor Tamoor Tariq, a senior member of Manchester's largest mosque, a Syrian refugee and other delegates, joined a national Stand Up to Racism group delivering supplies to the camp. They met some of the 6,000 refugees who have made the long and dangerous journey from conflict torn countries in Africa, the Middle East and the Indian sub-continent.
At the camp, delegates also liaised with refugee networks from France and Germany in their bid to work together to apply political pressure to resolve Europe's biggest refugee crisis since World War 2.
French riot police attempted to stop the UK delegates from leaving the Jungle after their visit and, when Julie Ward tried to show them her diplomatic passport, she was manhandled and pushed back into the camp. Eventually, the delegation found their way through the camp and back to their vehicles.
The MEP was the first to sign a petition at a meeting of 250 at The Dome inside the camp. Julie said: “We stood squashed onto an improvised stage to address the crowd. We told the refugees we had come to show solidarity with them and that we wanted to find ways to give them a political platform so they could be more empowered to speak up for themselves.
“We read out a pledge to redouble our efforts to push the UK government to allow the camp refugees to enter Britain where they would find a welcome from the millions of people who want their country to make a compassionate response to the growing crisis in Calais.”
She talked to unaccompanied children living at the camp and found that people were desperate to share their stories. “An Iraqi man with three children told me he had been a professor. He showed me his scarred wrists where he had made multiple attempts to commit suicide. It was heart-breaking to leave, knowing I would be going back to a warm bath and comfy bed while dispossessed people would be sleeping in squalid, cramped, damp and cold conditions.”
Amaf Usif, Refugee Support Co-ordinator for Manchester-based Syrian organisation Rethink Rebuild, said: “I have met many people who came to the UK through Calais and they told me a lot of scary and devastating stories but it was a totally different experience when I went there and saw with my own eyes what these people are struggling through.
“They are facing significant physical, psychological and emotional hardship and they are right in the heart of Europe. They should be helped and taken care of, not ignored and left to their destiny.”
Sarah Davies, senior lecturer in midwifery at the University of Salford, went to Calais on behalf of the UCU and the Royal College of Midwives. She was impressed by the organisation at the distribution centre and the dedication and efficiency of the volunteers.
But she was shocked by the “squalid, degrading and unsanitary conditions” people were being forced to endure at the Jungle. “I saw a vast number of people penned in behind huge fences topped with razor wire, overseen by stony-faced police wielding batons.”
With other delegates, she walked around the camp through a sea of mud, some of it contaminated with sewage, finding out that illnesses such as scabies, diarrhoea, chest infections and TB are going untreated. Sarah talked to many different people including several young boys aged around 10 – one of whom said his dad was living in Manchester.
She heard stories of mothers and pregnant women at the camp. “I was told how the police are tear-gassing the camp at night putting the safety of mothers and babies in jeopardy.”
Nick Wigmore, a North West NUT official and member of the union's national executive, said: “The fact that thousands of people continue to survive in such a place is miraculous.
“But that the severe overcrowding, lack of food, water and adequate shelter is accepted by countries, including France and the UK, is an absolute scandal.
“Despite everything, the refugees continue to forge a community which is positive and capable of organising both politically and socially. It is time to start listening to and engage with those collective voices and ensure that they are heard in schools and communities across the UK and across borders.”
And Shujatt Hussain, Treasurer of the UKIM Madina Masjid and Community Centre in Manchester, added: “The only way forward is to demand that the UK government allows these refugees entry into the country.”
A spokesperson for the Manchester-based Human Rights organisation RAPAR said: “There are no short cuts to the solution here - only a single step: Everyone in the camp comes to Britain and we, together, take it from there. The obscene conditions in which people in the camp are forced to live means that every hour of every day that this does not happen is a direct, brutal and complete violation of the babies, children, teenagers, mothers and fathers who are trapped there by the British and French Governments.”
London Labour councillor Michelline Ngongo, a former refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo, said Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had backed the delegation and she would be reporting to him.
“Their situation reminds me of how trapped I felt when I first arrived - they have no way back to the homes they once had.”
Michelline added that people at the Calais camp were “trapped in a maze of Government policy, regulations and borders – left to rot in a filthy, unhygienic wasteland of shanty-built shelters, tents and overflowing chemical toilets.” When she visited the camp, she found it strewn with fragments of lethal white asbestos.
Umjum Mirza,an Assistant Branch Secretary for ASLEF, the train drivers' union, said: “This is the 70th anniversary year of Bergen-Belsen. We need to learn the lessons of history and let the refugees into Britain immediately.”
1. Julie Ward, MEP, is the first to sign the Declaration Petition. In the picture, the petition is being held by Dr Rhetta Moran of Manchester-based human rights organisation RAPAR
2. Manchester delegation to Calais, left to right: L to R - Sarah Davies (RCM and UCU); Amaf Yusif, (Syrian refugee coordinator, Rethink Rebuild), Julie Ward (MEP), Rhetta Moran (RAPAR), Nick Wigmore (NUT NEC), Shujatt Hussain (Treasurer of the UKIM Madina Masjid and Community Centre in Manchester) Aiden Lawler (SWP)
3. Conditions inside the camp
4. Police tear gas cannisters at foot of Banksy mural
31/03/2016 Press release - OPEN LETTER FROM CALAIS ‘JUNGLE’ CAMP REFUGEES TO DAVID CAMERON AND THE BRITISH PEOPLE
22/03/2016 Press release - "An act of wanton barbarism": Burning of Refugee's Legal Centre in Calais 'Jungle' is Condemned
18/03/2016 Press release - Calais Legal Centre
09/03/2016 Press release - Afghan Interpreters now in Asylum Process as Bonfire of the Vanities* continues
Download the press release here:
03/03/2016 Press release - Young Afghan Interpreters Burned Out - But Staying Put
Download the press release here:
01/03/2016 Press release - Putting out the fire – or stoking it?
Download the press release here:
01/03/2016 Calais update - Bahirs eviction
This video was shot yesterday morning (29/02/16) by Bashir, aged 26, from just outside the doorway of his shelter, and before the Prefecture - Head of Police, Delphine Brard - and the general reserve of the national police: the only official force of law and order to be seen dealing with the refugee situation in Calais: Compagnies Républicaines de Sécurité (CRS)] finally moved in and dismantled his shelter.
I met him on road at 3pm as I was leaving the camp. He was carrying the green sleeping bag you can see in this video and his friends were with him.
"The police sprayed gas outside of the houses. I left the house, and left clothes, food, leads, gas, everything. They were meant to give us a day to move our house but they didn't. Tonight I will stay with my brother in his shelter."
Dr Rhetta Moran
29/02/2016 Calais update - Interview with French resident
29/02/2016 Calais update - Latest pictures of eviction
23/02/2016 Calais Update - What happened in Court
The hearing has completed. Court sat for around 1hr 45 minutes.
The judge did not rule. We do not have a confirmed time for the verdict but it is believed likely to be tomorrow.
Defence confirmed they only have 1156 alternative accommodation places currently available in Calais and throughout France. (details below)
The Associations census data shows need to accommodate 3455 people from Southern section of camp imminently- and a further 2042 in the Northern section which Prefecture have stated they will clear next.
Judge greatly concerned about differing numbers. Said the Prefecture figures were ‘a big problem’. Demanded an explanation for how numbers arrived at.
Prefecture admitted flaws in their methods for assessing numbers, particularly of children, currently in camp. But said they believed entire camp (north and south) to be around 3000 people.
Associations explained census methodology including a tally with water consumption and waste production on site as well as food distribution numbers.
Defence failed to refute the claim that the CAO’s (Centres of Accommodation) would only be available until 31st March.
Defence stated essential services will not be destroyed. We understand these to include the church, the school, the women and children’s centre, the youth centre and the library.
The lawyer for the associations, Julie Bonnier, called for the French authorities to stop the traumatisation of vulnerable people by bulldozing their homes in midst of winter. She also reminded the Judge not to commit the same humanitarian mistake that was made with Sangatte where it was razed, only to leave smaller slums and squats in its place.
Julie Bonnier also reminded the judge that in 2015 the refugees were invited to occupy this space and assured there was no chance of expulsion.
And Bonnier reminded the court that if Centres of Accommodation only available until 31st March, people will simply return to Calais – she asked for a consistency in the services and solutions on offer.
Accommodation places available include:
300 in Jules Ferry and the shipping containers – with 48 places within containers for children (adult supervision to be provided).
56 places in specialised accommodation in Calais and surrounds for children
200 places in ‘heated tents’ for children in Calais camp
200 places in ‘heated tents’ for adults
400 places in centres of accommodation around France
A note from the Associations (not raised in court) – 400 of the 480 places in the ‘heated tents’ are currently uninhabitable. They are flooded, not heated, prone to collapsing in heavy winds (causing one man to have his leg broken) and have no facilities or services for vulnerable children.
We await the verdict with interest.
- See more at: http://www.helprefugees.org.uk/2016/02/23/calais-updates-updates-throughout-the-day-on-the-calais-camp-court-case/#sthash.1kXChLzP.dpuf
19/02/2016 Calais NGOs take legal action
Calais NGOs take legal action to stop the bulldozing of the Calais Jungle
Friday, 19 February, 2016 with images
The NGOs and Associations working in the Calais Jungle have taken legal action alongside the refugees living there to stop the evictions and bulldozing of the southern half of the camp. The hearing will take place at the court in Lille on Tuesday 23 February ay 2pm.
The action does not support the ‘Jungle’ as being a good solution; rather it states that viable alternatives should be on offer if the refuges are going to be evicted. The NGOs do not believe that either the container camp or the respite centres (CAOs) are suitable or adequate.
The NGOs have applied for and interim suspension order to stop the Calais prefecture issuing an eviction order on the southern half of the camp. This approach was taken because of fears that a 48 hour eviction notice would be issued on Friday night, when the courts would be shut for following 48 hours, so there would be no possibility of a legal challenge. The lawyer taking the case on behalf of the NGOs and the refugees is Julie Bonnier who has extensive experience of working on evictions in Roma slums.
The bases of the claim are that:
1) When the current camp was set up in March 2015, this was done following eviction orders on various small camps around the Calais area. At that time the then Calais prefecture promised the refugees that if they moved to this land they would be able to stay there with no threat of eviction.
2) When discussing the current proposed eviction the prefecture said there are approximately 800 to 1,000 people in the southern part of the Jungle. However based on a population survey carried out by L’Auberge (a French charity working in the Jungle) the figure is actually over 3400. The census was done very rigorously and corroborated by other figures (distributed food, water consumed etc). This means that the French authorities suggestion of accommodating displaced people in the container camp and winter respite centres will be highly inadequate.
3) There have been various problems with the containers and respite centres which have been proposed by the French Authorities as alternative accommodation.
4) The claim also testimonials from thirty volunteers and NGOs that act on the camp (library, school, health center etc) that explain what they do and what facilities will be lost if the camp is destroyed.
The NGOs acting in the claim alongside the refugees are:
Care4Calais / L’Auberge des Migrants / Help Refugees / utopia 56 / Secours Catholique / Emmaus / Appel de Calais / Réveil voyageur
Separately, in an open letter to Bernard Cazeneuve, the French Minister of the Interior, eight French charities including Emmaus, Medicines Du Monde and Secours Catholique, have condemned the decision by the French Authorities to bulldoze the southern half of the refugee camp in Calais known as the ‘Jungle’. The letter acknowledges that this action by the Authorities will probably also include the destruction of the other half of the camp over the coming weeks.
The charities point out that no viable alternative accommodation options have been offered for the refugees to move to, so they will effectively be rendered homeless.
It is also points out that, when the current camp was established in March 2015, the refugees moving there from various small camps around the area were promised that, if they settled there, they would not be evicted. This promise is now being broken less than a year after it was made.
The letter notes that the 1500 places in the new container camp are severely insufficient for current numbers in the camp, and the container camp also lacks basic privacy and provides for little quality of life, being nothing more than a dormitory. Although the government has suggested making extra space available in the winter respite centres (CAOs), the French charities note that these have to date been poorly implemented with no attention to health or social concerns, and there has been poor provision of information resulting in refugees returning from the centres to Calais.
The charities recommend a renegotiation of the way that the UK and France jointly manage the reception of refugees, in particular with regard to vulnerable persons.
The letter ends by saying that the demolition of the Jungle will only lead to further abuses of human rights and ask that, due to the lack of viable alternatives, the eviction is postponed.
Founder of UK charity Care4Calais, Clare Moseley, commented: “The evictions make no sense. Refugees will not stop coming to Calais – their living conditions will just be so much more inhumane. In the last six months UK citizens have spent hundreds of thousands of pounds and hundreds of thousands of man-hours building shelters, schools and community centers, setting up medical facilities, community welfare and art services. If the eviction goes ahead all this will be destroyed and this incredible investment will wasted.”
For more information please contact Clare Moseley, Care4Calais, on +44 (0) 7968 399159, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Care4Calais is a UK charity set up to provide humanitarian assistance to refugees in Calais and Dunkirk.
11/02/2016 Hush - a - bye, baby, don’t you cry!
“I want to ask the UK and USA governments: what do human's rights really mean? what do women's rights mean?!!!”
Fatima goes on to explain:
“I did not have a chance pursue my ambition to go to university, but you, Mr Cameron and Mr Obama, I know you are educated. I want to know: does human rights just mean sending soldiers to Afghanistan? Why doesn’t human rights mean helping Afghan refugees when they are out of Aghanistan?! “
“When refugee children in the Calais jungle grow up, they will remember the meaning of Human's Rights in the cold winter of 2016: instead of sleeping in a warm bed after a long journey they have to be woken up all night until morning because they are trying to cross to the UK. They have to smell tear gas instead of smelling the smell of tooth paste before going to bed. And instead of hearing lullabies they hear their parents crying in a dark tent on a cold winter’s night.”
Labour MEP Julie Ward, one of the original signatories to the Pledge (launched in Calais on 13th December 2015 (https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/show-solidarity-with-refugees-uk-calais-and-europe), member of FEMM, the European Parliament’s Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality, and co-founder of the Children's European Parliament Inter Group on Children’s Rights (the equivalent of a Select Committee) reacted to Fatemah’s words:
“I don't know how David Cameron sleeps at night.”
A RAPAR spokesperson adds:
“In January 2016 alone, the International Office of Migration described upwards of 60 children dying as they crossed into Europe from Turkey. The children in the Calais camp are among the survivors – so far. Every day that passes where these refugee people are denied their right to claim asylum where they want to be, deepens the mockery of the claim that Britain safeguards children, at home or abroad.”
(http://www.rapar.org.uk/calais.html) For RAPAR’s previous press releases about Calais
https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/show-solidarity-with-refugees-uk-calais-and-europe) For Pledge launched on 13th December 2015
(http://www.juliewardmep.eu/julie_ward_visits_refugees_at_the_camp_in_calais) For Julie Ward’s posts on Calais
For more information contact:
Dr Rhetta Moran, RAPAR, 07776264646/ email@example.com
To read the Morning Star Coverage on 4th February click here
3rd February 2016 Press release: Rubber bullets fired on people in Calais
Last Thursday, the day after Holocaust Memorial Day, one of the Prime Minister’s “bunch of migrants” in Calais, Mohamed, an Afghan father of a toddler girl, sent RAPAR photographs (attached) of rubber bullet wounds that he described as sustained by Calais Refugee Camp residents, AKA “the bunch”.
Mohamed had already signed the Stand Up To Racism Pledge, for the Refugee Voice of the camp, http://www.standuptoracism.org.uk/2015/12/843/, alongside Julie Ward Labour MEP for the NW England, Ali from the European Lampadusa Network and Islington Councillor Micheline, https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/show-solidarity-with-refugees-uk-calais-and-europe.
Then, the Greek Migration Minister, Yiannis Mouzalas reminded us all (20.41 minutes: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b06z8fm6/newsnight-26012016)
“400,000 prisoners in camps, period of Nazism... no other period in all of history…the refugees are not prisoners, they have rights.”
On Sunday, RAPAR received more photographs, this time of a rubber bullet case picked up by Mohamed near the motorway bridge entrance to the Camp between 2-3 pm, and the hand of an 18 year old, injured during that shooting spree. This now forms part of the ‘squalid and dangerous conditions’ described on the Pledge, that are being endured by 6000 children and adult refugees living in this white-asbestos riddled, open sewer, bordering Britain.
Cllr. Obaid Khan, 41, London Borough of Newham, who added his signature to the pledge on 23rd January, the same day as opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn and Diane Abbott MP visited Calais, explains:
"I spoke to many young refugees aged between 10 to 15 who were unaccompanied, exhausted and terrified. They said that they wanted to live, go to school to learn… just like any young children. They also told me that they had no access to doctors, dentists or hospitals, very limited access to food… shocking for me to see all this in 21st century Europe.”
Developing her commitment as a Pledge signatory - to redouble her efforts in calling for the British Government to intervene, to stop further camp deaths, and allow the people there to make their refugee claims in the country where they want to be - is an example of
An anti-racist campaigner who, as a NW England Labour candidate, replaced Nazi Nick Griffin in the European elections in May 2014, Julie is now the European Parliamentary Labour Party's spokesperson on Culture, Education, Arts, Sport and Citizenship.
During Stand Up To Racism’s visit to meet refugees in December 2015, Julie was physically prevented from leaving the Calais camp by armed riot police. The incident is now being referred to the French authorities. Julie says:
"If a democratically elected official - such as myself - receives such appalling treatment at the hands of the riot police, what are they prepared to do to the camp inhabitants? The refugees should be protected from the extreme right wing who lurk on the fringes of the camp, and vulnerable camp inhabitants should be given the humanitarian assistance they need.
The use of tear gas, rubber bullets and physical force, such as I experienced, is insupportable when dealing with people who are dispossessed."
Trade Union delegate from the original Pledge launch at the camp’s “Dome” on 13th December 2015, Umjum Mirza, ASLEF, Assistant Branch Secretary, Victoria Line, London Underground, reacted as follows:
“We need to learn the lessons of history and let the Refugees into Britain immediately.”
Political scientist and Holocaust historian, Raul Hilberg, traced that the phrase 'Never Again' first appeared on handmade signs put up by inmates at Buchenwald in April 1945, shortly after its liberation by US forces. We must all honour their slogan.
See news article here:
Show solidarity with refugees, sign the petition here:
25/11/2015 North-West Delegation heading to Calais on 13th December 2015
As the weather grows colder and the conditions on the camp remain very dangerous to its residents, the imperative to secure the safety of the
5000 plus people who have fled into Europe and who are camped in Calais, including families with children, becomes more and more acute (French court orders government to implement improvements). Our contributions towards ensuring that they can become safe, avoid death and reach their destination "the UK" where they have actual connections of one from or another, which is why they are camped out in Calais in the first place) - has to include highlighting their conditions (see Doctors of the World report here) and calling upon our own government to enable their entry. This situation is even more pressing “ and complex“ since the events in Paris. Download a collection sheet here.
One for One: Calais Bike Project