Refugees are living in terrible conditions in camps in Calais and Dunkirk. These camps are less than two hundred miles from London and
Paris, capitals of two of the wealthiest countries in the world and Brussels the home of the European Parliament.
Yet human beings in desperate circumstances are living in conditions that the United Nations believes does not meet minimum standards for a refugee camp. Many refugees have fled war, poverty and violence and need urgent humanitarian assistance. Instead people in these camps have been met with appalling inflammatory rhetoric, being described as a “swarm” from the Prime Minister and “marauding migrants” from the Foreign Secretary.
The irresponsible language of politicians in the UK and across Europe is paving the way for the far-right to make gains from the refugee
crisis. In France the fascist Front National led by Marie Le Pen received its highest ever vote in last month’s regional election whereas in Germany PEGIDA, an islamophobic street movement, has been reenergised by exploiting the refugee crisis.
There is an urgent need to challenge the negative rhetoric being used by politicians and sections of the media towards refugees; and to
pressure politicians to offer a more permanent solution for the people living in camps in France who want to reach the UK.
Trade Unionists 4 Calais is an attempt to use the progressive voice of the trade union movement to show solidarity with people in need and
counter attempts to allow refugees to become scapegoats for problems such as austerity, when their situation is partly a result of a number
of UK backed wars. From 12 to 21 February Stand Up to Racism is planning to head to Calais with a number of trade unionists to
volunteer with French organisation working with refugees. We plan to volunteer in the distribution centres, teach or offer
support with English and help with distributions in the camps.
Accommodation in Calais
We have booked accommodation near Calais which is available on a first come first served basis. Our reservation covers nine days between 12-21 February which is half-term week for many schools which will mean teachers can participate. Trade unionists can choose how many days they wish to spend out there and we can facilitate. For the house we are asking for £20 per head per night to cover cost and a donation to the project from union branch (if possible). This will help with costs in France such as petrol for minibus, meeting rooms hire and food shopping.
At least some of the evenings we aim to have a meeting to discuss the refugee crisis, antiracist activities and what we can be doing in our unions and workplaces to show solidarity with refugees.
Contact Sylvia Ferreira on firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to get invloved.