Around 250 vehicles have left London on a “Convoy To Calais” to deliver aid and indulge in poverty tourism, despite French police calling for the procession be to be banned.
The trip has been advertised as providing “music” and a “football match”. “Refugees Welcome” flags fluttered on the cars and vans that gathered this morning in central London, and a busload of students were filmed singing: “Let in every refugee; throw the Tories in the sea!”
— Paddy N (@padswp) June 18, 2016
“The Convoy to Calais on 18 June will be a huge demonstration of solidarity with refugees from the people of this country. The major unions are in. The biggest social movements are in. The Muslim community is in. Are you?” reads the convoytocalais.org website.
“There will be music, shared ideas and celebration of humanity,” it adds.
The event has been organised by Stand up to Racism, People’s Assembly Against Austerity, Unite the Union, Communications Workers Union, TSSA, Stop the War Coalition, War on Want, Momentum, and the Muslim Association of Britain.
Detailed shopping lists have been compiled on a website call calaidipedia.co.uk; they included unlocked smartphones, coffee, olive oil and dried fruit and nuts.
Last year there were pleas from various charities and the authorities to stop sending clothes to the illegal migrant camp, as the majority of it was “unwanted” and ended up dumped in the mud.
Despite the event being resolutely banned by French authorities last week, the convoy is going ahead.
A letter signed by Calais Prefect Fabienne Buccio was delivered to the convoy’s organisers, highlighting how previous migrant “solidarity events” had ended in rioting and confrontation with police.
There are “serious reasons to believe that the demonstration of June 18th, 2016 could risk causing serious disturbance to public order,” the letter read.
It explained how “police forces cannot be mobilised in sufficient number” to ensure public safety due to the Euro 2016 football tournament and France’s current state of emergency following a relentless succession of terror attacks this year.
— Alex Collis (@AlexCollisCam) June 18, 2016
Organisers decided to ignore the plea from France’s overstretched police force, writing on their website: “Our support for the refugees remains unwavering as their predicament becomes ever more fragile and uncertain. We have therefore decided to go ahead with the convoy.”
Weyman Bennett of Stand Up To Racism, a key organiser of the event, complained to the Guardian: “It’s adding insult to injury leaving refugees in a perilous state in Calais and then denying them aid and solidarity on a false pretext… There was a plan for a football match and face-painting for the kids.”
Mr. Bennett addressed a protest in August last year, which was accused of fuelling violence, and British anarchists posing as aid workers have repeatedly triggered riots and violence in the illegal camp.
— Saleyha Ahsan (@SaleyhaAhsan) June 18, 2016
— SELPA -kindness & respect (@PeoplesSELondon) June 18, 2016