UK member organisations of the cross-Channel human rights initiative, 'People not Walls', alongside other non-governmental organisations in the UK and France are increasingly concerned about the the growing number of migrant individuals and families taking their lives into their hands to cross the Channel, typically in flimsy and unsafe boats. Like others, 'People not Walls' still stresses the need for adequate safe and sanitary accommodation in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, as well as for safe ways of claiming asylum without having to make dangerous crossings in the hands of people smugglers.
Ben Bano, Coordinator of 'People not Walls' said: "The growing number of people taking their lives into their hands to reach the UK is an issue of real concern. The number of migrants in and around Calais is increasing at the same time as people, often in fragile and marginal situations, attempt to escape Covid-19 as well as to join family and friends who have reached refuge in the UK.
The conditions for migrants in Calais and Dunkirk are nothing short of appalling and promote the spread of Covid-19 as there are next to zero sanitary and hygiene facilities for those sleeping rough. Volunteer aid workers are in short supply and face difficulties in providing services when faced with national restrictions upon movement, as well as local limits upon the hours and places in which they can deliver aid. A limited number of migrants have been housed in isolation centres but not only is the number of places is inadequate, but some are unsuited to the practice of safe isolation and a large and growing number still survive in tents near Calais and Dunkirk. The routine frequent harassment by police and clearance of campsites only add to the the further risk of Covid-19 spreading.
We call on the French and British governments to provide shelter and sanitary facilities and opportunities to claim asylum without having to make dangerous Channel crossings in the hands of people smugglers."
'Seeking Sanctuary' aims to raise awareness about people displaced from their homes and to provide basic humanitarian assistance from Faith Communities and Community Organisations via partnerships with experienced aid workers. Our special concern is for the 2000 or so exiles who are stuck in north-western France, mistakenly expecting a welcome in the UK.
They need food, water, good counsel and clothes, which are accepted, sorted and distributed by several organisations, including two Calais warehouses which also supply needs further afield.
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