'Refugees welcome here': Protesters slam British govt inaction over Calais ‘Jungle’ migrants (VIDEO)
The demonstrators paraded through the streets of London on Saturday holding anti-racism banners and chanting that refugees are welcome in the UK.
“Show some humanity,” one placard read, while another said, “Stand up to racism. Refugees welcome”.
“Say it now, say it clear, refugees are welcome here,” they shouted.
An estimated 10,000 people are living in the refugee camp in Calais, colloquially referred to 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 the UK and there have been numerous incidents of people attempting to reach the UK by boarding trucks approaching the tunnel.
The French government has stressed that their British counterparts need to take their share of responsibility for the the people in the camp. Visiting Calais in September, French President Francois 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 centers 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. Organizers said that over 100 children went missing when French authorities shut part of the camp earlier this year.
The British government has agreed to take in unaccompanied children who have links to the UK. According to Help Refugees’ most recent census, there are 1,022 unaccompanied minors living in the camp, and at least 387, the charity claims, have a legal right to be in the UK.
With the help of aid agencies, British and French officials have begun registering children who are eligible to travel. The Children's Commissioner for England Anne Longfield previously said they will focus on the under 12s. The first group of about 20 unaccompanied children arrived in Britain over the weekend.
A Home Office spokesman told The Guardian that “Work is continuing on both sides of the Channel to ensure this (the transfer of children to the UK) happens as a matter of urgency.”
Home Secretary Amber Rudd last week confirmed the British government will support the French authorities in addressing the humanitarian situation in the camp, playing down the reports of a row between the two states over responsibility for the refugees.
In early October, the mayor of Calais failed to prevent the construction of the so called ‘Great Wall’ of Calais, sponsored by the UK, a measure London with which aims to stop asylum seekers from entering Britain.