Migrants in Calais need our help

08Jul09

refugee-anonymityoriginally published: 4th July 2009

The United Nations high commissioner for refugees (UNHCR) has announced it is formally establishing a full-time presence in the French port of Calais. The issue of Calais and the build up of migrants there seemingly desperate to reach the UK is not a new one.

In fact, it has been ongoing since the closure of the Sangatte centre in 2002, a move that dealt with the symptom of the problem, rather than the cause.

It is a story that attracts media attention that is disproportionate to the numbers: reports of how many migrants are there vary from 700 to 2,000 people, however in relation to the number of people applying for asylum (25,670 to the UK in 2008) it is not a large number.

In fact, contrary to what certain sections of the media would have you believe, France receives more applications for asylum than the UK (more than 27,000 in 2008) and is more generous when granting leave to stay.

The conditions for the migrants in Calais are atrocious. They are camped on waste ground and in squatted houses in the town, they queue each day for soup kitchens provided by local volunteers, and have little access to facilities as basic as running water. Included in this group are unaccompanied children. It is to all our shame that they are left to live in such appalling circumstances.

Read full report >

Related Report:

The Big Question: Why is the UN setting up in Calais and can it resolve the refugee problem?
2nd July 2009

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