Members of Stand up to Racism and Trade Unionists for Calais gathered outside the French Embassy in London last night, to protest “in solidarity” with the migrants at Calais, following announcements that The Jungle migrant camp is to be dismantled.
Fewer than 50 people gathered outside the embassy to chant slogans such as: “Say it loud, say it clear, refugees are welcome here,” “Let them in and let them stay, Theresa May, hear what we say,” and “Let it every refugee, throw the Tories in the sea.”
The town of Calais has been besieged by thousand of migrants trying to reach the UK. Although the port town has been a gateway to Britain for illegal immigrants for over a decade, tensions in the town have risen to new heights over the last eighteen months as the migrant crisis sweeping Europe hit the region hard.
Migrants have increasingly turned to brazen and violent means to clamber on board UK bound lorries, blockading roads with felled trees in order to halt traffic. Makeshift spears fashioned from branches have been thrown through cab windows, and one driver was even threatened by migrants wielding a chainsaw.
On Monday Calaisien locals, dock-workers, farmers and truck drivers staged a protest at the ongoing situation, blockading the town and promising to continue the blockade until the French authorities dismantle the camp. At least 300 protesters marched on the protest, at one point forming a human chain across the road.
The Calais blockade was lifted following a meeting between Fabienne Buccio, state representative for the region, and representatives from the protesters. Buccio is said to have assured the Calaisiens that the Jungle migrant camp would be completely dismantled “in a single step”. He also promised a fund to help local businesses, and extra security, bringing the total number of officers in the region to over 2000.
In a statement, the union protesters described the dismantling of The Jungle as “a government backed onslaught, which would affect migrants “including hundreds of children, many of them unaccompanied.”
The protesters have called on governments to do more for the migrants, saying: “The French and British governments are failing in their duty of care towards up to ten thousand refugees, many sleeping in appalling conditions at the camp.
“Yet the French authorities seek to win votes be being ‘tough’ on the refugees while the British government has even failed to act on the Dubs amendment to the Immigration Bill that should have led to unaccompanied children coming to this country.”
In January this year the French government tried to move migrants into purpose-built accommodation offering a warm, dry bed, sanitation and electricity, built at a cost of £20 million. But most of the migrants refused to move in after left wing agitators warned that they may have to apply for asylum in France rather than the UK.
Weyman Bennet, from Stand up to Racism, one of the organisers of yesterday’s protest in London said: “Previous attacks by police on these camps have seen unaccompanied children disappear, you can only imagine their fate.”
Sabby Dahli, from the same group, added that the group were protesting “against the planned assault on the Jungle to offer our solidarity to those at the camp.
“The blockade may be over but the threat to to the refugees continues.
“We are also calling on Theresa May to stop the rhetoric and scapegoating and to act on the Dubs amendment as a first move in developing a responsible policy to refugees.”