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Refugees in Calais march to demand the border is opened

This article is over 6 years, 4 months old
Issue 2472
Protesting in Calais last Saturday
Protesting in Calais last Saturday (Pic: Paul Stringer)

Thousands of refugees and supporters marched through Calais last Saturday demanding the border was opened, including Stand up to Racism activists from London and Birmingham.

Sylvie Desjonqueres is from Emmaus, one of the charities working with the refugees that called the demonstration. 

She told Socialist Worker, “More people are dying because it’s been made almost impossible to get across the border.”

Conditions are desperate. Nisar left Afghanistan to flee the Taliban. He told Socialist Worker, “We are in fear of our lives. I came here with no shoes and I still have no shoes. 

“I am not an animal, I am a human being.” 

Birmingham activist Adam Yosef said, “Refugees from various countries got together to march in solidarity, protest against their treatment and chant in their own languages.”

Anti-racists across Britain have been raising money and collecting goods to send to Calais. Sylvie said this is important—especially as winter approaches—and so is campaigning against the border. 

She said, “Humans have always migrated. 

“Today they are being blocked, and that’s what is creating this situation.”

Nisar agreed. He said, “Tell David Cameron to open the border—we want to work.”

Let’s all stand up to racism

Campaigners have built solidarity meetings around Britain with refugees. 

Around 100 people met in central London on Monday of this week in a meeting organised by Stand Up to Racism. 

Maz Saleem said that the recent trip to Calais had raised over £9,000 and aid is now being coordinated through Calais Aid.

Stand Up to Racism (SUtR) joint national secretary Weyman Bennett said, “We’ve got a window of opportunity to save people’s lives.” 

He called on people to set up SUtR groups wherever they are to challenge anti-migrant lies and organise help.

Street meetings for refugees have been held in cities across Britain including Portsmouth and Bolton.

What you can do to help…

Start building solidarity and challenge anti-migrant racism—it’s time to get organised

  • Put on a local Stand Up to Racism public meeting or rally
  • Download a collection sheet to take round your school, college, university, workplace or neighbourhood
  • Join the next solidarity convoy to Calais on 17 October
Refugees and activists called for Britain to open its border in Calais last week
Refugees and activists called for Britain to open its border in Calais last week (Pic: Zak Cochrane)




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