65 Syrian refugees have been staging a blockade of the Calais ferry terminal for over ten hours now, demanding to speak to a representative of the UK Home Office. Some are on hunger strike.
After fleeing shelling and persecution in Syria, the refugees endured further brutality in Europe. In the small French port town they have been subject to evictions from emergency shelters, destruction of possessions and repeated arrest.
The blockaders have therefore resorted to direct action to have their voices heard. They are refusing to leave until their demands are met. In a town where the police act with considerable impunity on a daily basis, it is important that the blockaders receive solidarity from beyond Calais in publicising their demands.
The group of refugees say:
‘We are now demonstrating in the port of Calais, we will not leave until they let us go to England. We demand one person from the UK home office comes here to speak with us, and to see our situation. We have the right to claim asylum in england, but how do we get there? There is not a legal way to cross. We are about 65 people from Syria at the port at the moment, with our families, old women, mothers, children the youngest being three years old and friends.’
In solidarity with the protestors here’s what YOU can do:
1. Tweet to the following accounts, asking them to respond to the blockaders’ demands:
UK HOME OFFICE: @ukhomeoffice
UNHCHR UK: @UNHCRUK
2. Tweet the following account, asking the foreign office to back up its rhetoric on Syria with support for Syrian refugees at home: UK FOREIGN OFFICE: @foreignoffice
3. Edit and send this sample fax/letter to Theresa May:
Dear Theresa May
As of yesterday afternoon, Wednesday 2 October, 65 Syrian refugees, including men, women, elderly people, children as young as 3 years old, have been blockading the entrance of the port of Calais. After fleeing shelling and persecution in Syria, the refugees have endured further brutality in Europe. In the small French port town they have been subject to evictions from emergency shelters, destruction of possessions and repeated arrest.
The Syrian refugees said yesterday ‘There is nowhere safe for us to shelter in Calais, we are here just for one thing and that is to have asylum in England. Many of us have family and friends in England who we would like to see and be able to live with. There is also a strong Syrian community there, more than in France.’
‘We are now demonstrating in the port of Calais, we will not leave until you let us go to England. We demand one person from the UK home office comes here to speak with us, and to see our situation. We have the right to claim asylum in England, but how do we get there? There is not a legal way to cross.’
David Cameron has pledged to ‘lead the world’ on aid for Syrian refugees. The situation of the Syrians protesting in the port of Calais offers a perfect opportunity to support Syrian refugees at our borders, turning this rhetoric into action. Failure to do so will open the government to accusations of hypocrisy.
I urge you to intervene in this matter and ensure the demands of the Syrian refugees are heard. I urge you to use your powers as Home Secretary, send a representative of the Home Office to the port and grant the Syrian protesters refuge in the UK
The postal address is: Rt. Hon. Theresa May, MP, Secretary of State for the Home Office, 2 Marsham Street, London, SW1P 4DF.
The email addresses to use are: firstname.lastname@example.org / UKBApublicenquiries@UKBA.gsi.gov.uk / CITTO@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk / Privateoffice.email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
The fax number is: 0207 0354745 (when faxing from outside the UK, use 00 44 2070354745).
4. Share the story, use your networks – social media, mainstream media, groups.
In recent weeks the UNHCR and EU governments’ have made promises to help Syrian refugees, agreeing on quotas for asylum and ways to support the people.