Branch Secretary :

Calais: Humanitarian crisis on our doorstep

No human is illegal


‘...It is impossible not to empathise with the refugees in Calais.  What we saw were thousands of young men, women and children attempting to survive in desperately unsafe and inhumane conditions.  It is no exaggeration to say that what we observed in Calais was a failure to us as human beings because what is immediately apparent is the complete failure to meet the basic needs of the people living in the “jungle”...’



That is how an important report launched in the House of Commons by Day Mer on Wednesday 9th December described conditions in Calais.   As a branch we recently agreed financial support for Day Mers work on this.  The usual large aide charities are absent, what aide there is, is being delivered by volunteers.  The report comments:


‘...It is deplorable that Europe which plays an active role on waging war under the pretence of saving lives and ending the suffering of people in faraway lands, shows no interest in addressing the consequences of their actions oversees. Furthermore, it is appalling that Europe continues to fail to provide a safety to these refugees...’




Speakers gave eyewitness accounts of the shocking conditions in the camp.



The meeting was sponsored by Edmonton Labour MP Kate Osamor who pledged to raise the issue in the house and to participate in a future trade union fact finding visit. She also underlined her opposition to bombing.



Oktay Sahbaz underlined that this is a desperately urgent question as winter draws in making conditions still more intolerable.


Bakers union (BFAWU) president Ian Hodson called for solidarity and pleged his unions support.


Unite housing workers LE1111 chair Paul Kershaw spoke bringing solidarity from Unite and our branch.  He pledged to raise the issue in the union and to support the call in the report for active trade union involvement.  He comented, "The report says it is impossible not to empathise with the refugees in Calais, that is true for most ordinary people but not for some in Westminster"


He warned that Cameron’s use of the word “swarm” to describe people was an indicator of the depths the government are reaching.  Yet there is not a shortage of resources in Britain, the problem is who controls them.  In 1953, under a Tory government 245,000 social homes were built – almost double the total number built in recent years.  The problem is austerity not too many people.


Other speakers included Hackney South MP Meg Hillier and Lisa Bainbridge from the Socialist Party. A statement of support from Christine Blower of the NUT was read out.


Report demands:

* We demand that the French and British governments accept responsibility for what is

becoming an increasing crisis between two of the most economically advances countries.

*We demand that the British Government set aside a fund for supporting the refugees in


*We invite trade unions work together to jointly support this campaign to persuade the

British Government to accept their responsibility in this crisis and make a commitment to

help those in need.

*We call on national and international charities to play a more active role in providing

relief to the refugees in Calais.

*We invite all charities, organisations and groups to co-ordinate efforts to ensure all aid is

managed effectively and reaches all refugees in Calais.


How individuals can help


If you are a member of the public:


*Donate - As the winter approaches there is increased concern for the welfare of those in

Calais. There is still a high need for waterproof jackets, waterproof shoes and boots,

jumpers, tents, sleeping bags, socks, scarves, hats, gloves and new underwear. There is

also a need for basic hygiene products. For example toothpaste, toothbrushes, hand

sanitisers, nappies, feminine hygiene products.


*Write to your MP – Write to your local MP and council to share your concerns about the

circumstances in Calais and demand that the borders be opened.


*Get in touch with us to support and be part of the effort.


Click on Download to read the report.



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