CSAN led a UK delegation of cross-party parliamentarians to visit the ‘Jungle’ camp in Calais, joined by Secours Catholique, their sister organisation in France and French politicians on Thursday 21 January.
Mike Kane MP, Labour Shadow Minister for International Development, Liberal Democrat MP Mark Williams and Lord Hylton, crossbench peer, spent the day experiencing conditions in the camp and talking with inhabitants. The UK delegation later took part in a round table discussion with French parliamentarians and recognised the mutual responsibility of both nations to provide a political resolution to the refugee crisis.
CSAN CEO Dr Philip McCarthy said, “the residents of the camp live in deplorable conditions, with little access to basic needs such as food, bathing and warmth. Despite this there are small hubs of activity throughout; people setting up shops, churches and restaurants which highlights that these people want to be able to rebuild their lives and that there is still hope in the camp.”
We hope that the visit will encourage the British and French governments to engage more constructively on this issue. This dialogue is needed if the inhabitants of the camp are to be able to rebuild their lives.”
Mark Williams, Liberal Democrat MP for Ceredigion continued, “you can see evidence of people’s resourcefulness and innovation, which should be put to good use rather than left to languish.”
Mike Kane, Labour MP for Wythenshawe and Sale East said, “a small number of people have settled in my constituency and settled well and this is something which should be celebrated and worked towards.”
He continued, “all we do by denying people the right to freely move around is drive them into the hands of people traffickers. We need to remember they are human beings with rights and dignity. We must work harder to imagine the world as it could be.”
Notes to editors
1) CSAN (Caritas Social Action Network) is the domestic social action arm of the Catholic Church in England and Wales. CSAN comprises over 43 Catholic Charities which work across England and Wales supporting children living in poverty, homeless people, disabled people, Travellers, migrants, refugees, prisoners and other marginalised groups. More information can be found at www.csan.org.uk
2) Secours Catholique Founded in 1946, Secours Catholique – Caritas France is a service of the Catholic Church and a member of the Caritas Internationalis confederation. It unites a network of 62,000 volunteers, “bringing help either direct or indirect, moral or material aid wherever there is a need for it, with the exception of any distinctive national or confessional religious identity, irrespective of the philosophical or religious opinions of the beneficiaries” (extract from the Statutes, art. 1).
3) Mike Kane MP, Labour Shadow Minister for International Development is MP for Wythenshawe and Sale East
4) Mark Williams MP, Liberal Democrat, is MP for Ceredigion
5) The following French politicians joined the UK delegation: Jean-Marc Germain,
Parti Socialiste (Socialist Party), Marie-Louise Fort, Les Républicains, (Republican Party) Jean Frederic Poisson, Les Républicains, (Republican Party).
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