PROTESTERS gathered in Parliament Square in Westminster on Saturday 15th October to demand Government action to help refugees held in France’s infamous “Calais Jungle” camp, in a protest organised by Stand Up To Racism.
The demonstrators marched through the streets of London holding anti-racism banners and chanting: “Refugees are welcome here.”
An estimated 10,000 people are living in the refugee camp in Calais, known as the “Jungle”.
Conditions in the camp are overcrowded and unsanitary, and its inhabitants are also struggling with food shortages. The makeshift camp is located close to the Channel Tunnel linking France with Britain and there have been numerous incidents of people attempting to reach Britain by boarding trucks approaching the tunnel.
The French government has stressed that their British counterparts need to take their share of responsibility for the people in the camp. Visiting Calais in September, French President François Hollande expressed his “determination that the British authorities play their part in the humanitarian effort that France is undertaking and that they continue to do that in the future.”
French authorities want to close the camp by the end of the year and move the refugees to reception centres around the country. Aid groups have warned that the planned closure will lead to children and other vulnerable people disappearing and falling into the hands of smugglers – an issue raised by speakers during Saturday’s protest in London.
Organisers said that over 100 children went missing when French authorities shut part of the camp earlier this year.