Refugees’ aid convoy not permitted into France by authorites
An aid convoy scheduled to leave London this week to the main refugee camp in Calais has been stopped by French authorities who have cited security concerns.
Organisers of the convoy on Friday (June 17) called the last minute ban by French authorities a “disgrace.”
“This is an absolute disgrace. This is a mercy mission, there are people who are in the most desperate plight in the refugee camp and it’s an absolute disgrace that the French government, and I believe they must be complicit with the British authorities, are stopping this from happening,” said John Rees, a campaigner for Stop the War Coalition and one of the main organisers of the convoy.
Organisers and volunteers sifted through and loaded boxes and bags of donated aid into a warehouse to prepare the items for the convoy that they say had been planned for months.
The aid convoy was set to leave on Saturday (June 18) and according to organisers not only was it to support the refugees but was timed to send an important “political message” days before a planned EU referendum vote.
“It’s a political message that we wanted to send in the run up to the EU referendum because there’s plenty of people on both sides of that debate who are using it in the most disgraceful and racist way. And we wanted to say that ordinary people in this country from around this country don’t feel like that. They may have different views on the EU referendum but they do believe that these people are genuine refugees who deserve our support and deserve to made welcome here,” said Rees.
Many of the migrants in Calais are fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and elsewhere and try to reach Britain, where they hope to resettle, either by climbing onto lorries heading onto ferries or by breaking into the nearby Channel Tunnel.
These efforts are in spite of additional UK-funded security measures introduced in October including extra fencing, cameras and hundreds of additional police officers.
Official figures from the Pas de Calais region put the total in tents, shanties and a new state-run city of converted shipping containers at 3,900, up from 3,500 at the end of March, but well down from the peak of over 6,000 reported in September.
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