“Stand Up to Racism organised a makeshift stage, and speakers from both the refugee community and solidarity groups took to the stage to express outrage at the situation in Calais.
The protest was mostly refugees, with groups from France, PCS from UK, Stand Up to Racism groups from Birmingham & London, trade union groups from Portsmouth, Leicester, Glasgow, Stop the War Coalition Scotland and our SWAN student group from Merseyside.
The banner in this pic was from a French coalition solidarity group, CISPM, it says ‘freedom of movement and settlement for all.’ :
We students were able to spend time with refugees individually and listen to their stories, we were able to express our solidarity and were well received- those we met were warm and welcoming. We walked into the camp a short way. Although the ingenuity of the communities and agencies on the ground means that there is a sense of organisation- with new, sturdier shelters going up, the conditions are horrendous. Tents surrounded by rubbish and mud. It was raining whilst we were there, I can’t imagine how much worse it will get as the seasons change.
I am stunned that this degree of inhumanity and indifference on behalf of our governments exists so nearby.
I knew before we arrived that the majority of the refugee community in Calais are young men, trying to find a better situation in the hope that their families will join them afterwards. I was shocked then to meet the children who live in the jungle, one of my pics shows three children holding a banner. Two of them seem momentarily happy, despite the situation, but the little girl on the right just stared at me- I read so much more in her unsmiling face; I imagine her asking me, across our language barrier, why do you sit by and allow me to live like this?”
(Please note: permission was sought for every photograph).