08 January 2016
Some of you will remember on the 23rd of November I wrote to David Cameron MP.
This is the response I got yesterday, from - not him, but someone in the Foreign Office.
here is my response:
Dear Mr Adam Daniels
Thank you for your response, albeit nearly 6 weeks after my letter arrived to Downing Street, of course I do understand that the PM receives a lot of correspondence, but what a shame he couldn't respond to me himself, perhaps its because he is more interested in positive stories?
This subject is one of great concern to me, as I have been working in the camp outside Calais and the one at Dunkirk, to a lesser degree, on several occasions now, and time is something we do not have in unlimited supply, as people will start to die with the inclement weather that is with us all, this issue is urgent!
I have worked in 4, 3rd world countries, after natural disasters and worked with refugees, who staggeringly, 100% of the time had better conditions than currently in Calais and Dunkirk!
I am not aware of what your position is within the Home Office, but at a guess I would say you have not been into either the camp at Calais or the one at Dunkirk yourself? Of course I may well be wrong, but I think if you had, you might view the situation rather differently being face to face with the shocking reality! I would be more than happy to accompany you to the camp and I can certainly show you just how dire the place is.
I am very sorry to note that you refer to this issue using the word migrant and not refugee, and I refer you to the UNHCR website: http://www.unhcr.org/55df0e556.html that outlines the differences. There are some important aspects, with reference to dignity and safety, in this document, many of which are directly flouted, in both Calais and Dunkirk, and this causes me, and I know many others, deep concern!
As just one example, you say 'migrants reflecting on next steps to consider asylum', surely it is only refugees that claim asylum because they are fleeing war and oppression?
I have spoken to many many people in both Calais and Dunkirk and have yet to speak to a migrant, I am sure there are some but it seems the majority of folk in the camps are truly running for their lives. I could tell you some stories that would make you feel very uncomfortable. I have listened to many so I can get a real feel for what is going on - I need no further convincing.
Perhaps you would like to share the whereabouts of the 'dedicated facilities, a significant distance from Calais' where those who want to seek asylum in France is? Although I doubt very many will wish to do so after the diabolical treatment that has been meted out to them by the CRS. In fact it makes them keener than ever to come to England as they know our Police force would never stoop so low.
I have had many conversations about this violent behaviour backed up by the indiscriminate use of teargas on a daily basis, mostly with no provocation whatsoever. The women and children are often included in the ones suffering - it is just plain cruel.
The view of most residents of the camp is that if the French police can be so harsh why would they want to live in such a place that appears to condone this outrageous behaviour.
Please do tell me more about the joint programme to identify the most vulnerable, (and when it is starting) refugees, (not migrants) and move them to a place of safety - as there are numerous unaccompanied children, and I am only aware of 2 who are in any kind of processing system and even that is grindingly slow. It is totally shameful on the part of both Governments, that the number one priority does NOT appear to be these many vulnerable children. They could be identified very fast and taken out of the camp and given temporary safe housing in a heartbeat, it is inexcusable they are still in this squalid dangerous environment.
There will soon be a complete breakdown in law and order as the refugees feel more and more oppressed and dehumanised, and then the state will stand back and say - "we told you so" - I question what the Government motives are in not acting when as
Yvette Cooper MP rightly states - "this problem is not too big to deal with."
And lastly I will reiterate that if both Governments do truly share concerns about the difficult living conditions of the refugees in Calais, much more would have been done to ensure their health and safety and they would not be living in this hell hole of an unsanitary camp. Rather the government has spent huge sums on a fence and now more on razor wire - why was the money not spent on providing processing for these people years ago before we reached this inhumane catastrophic situation.
I welcome your urgent response please.
Sarah Griffith MBE
Founder of Bridge2
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