Calais Channel crossings & UK

Ein Brief an Premierminister Sunak

Calais Appel, eine Dachorganisation von acht in Calais tätigen Basisinitiativen, richtete am 4. November 2022 einen offenen Brief an den britischen Premierminister Rishi Sunak. Darin beschreiben sie die fortdauernde humanitäre und menschenrechtliche Krise in Nordfrankreich. Sie plädieren für die Schaffung sicherer Einreisewege nach Großbritannien, statt den Grenzraum so abschreckend wir möglich zuzurichten. Wir dokumentieren das Schreiben im Folgenden:

Dear Prime Minister,

There is a humanitarian emergency unfolding on the British border. When the media focusses on counting the number of small boat journeys across the Channel, they ignore the harsh reality on the ground: Calais and Grande-Synthe remain cruel and dangerous places for thousands of people seeking safety. Human rights are routinely abused, possessions stolen by the police, and thousands of people sleep rough in and around the city.

When the Rwanda deportation scheme was announced, the effect on the mental health of displaced people was devasting and immediate. Families feared they risked being flownto Rwanda before their asylum claim had been heared, and that they would remain in Rwanda if their claim was accepted (under your Gouvernment’s current plan, both of these would be true). The atmosphere was very tense and despondent whilst people dealt with these uncertainties; two people took their own lives amidst all the confusion and misinformation.

Simultaneously, many Ukrainians were briefly accomodated in Calais before being transferred to the UK. The admirable success of the visa scheme for Ukrainians show that the UK & France are able to collaborate on providing safe passages to people seeking safety. Grassroots organisations remain in Calais because the Government is failing to fulfil this responsibility to people of other nationalities facing equal threats. Around 80% of all asylum applications in the UK succeed either at the initial stage or an appeal – these are people who deserve protection, and yet they are treated with an inhumane disregard at almost every stage of their journey.

The UK Government has poured money into fortifying the border through drones, fences, barbed wire and more. French police continue to create a hostile environment under their banner of ‚zero fixation points‘: evictions of people’s living sites are carried out every 26 / 48 hours. During these evictions, people’s limited personal belongings – tents, blankets, bags, identity papers, mobile phones, medicines & clothes – are often destroyed on the spot or thrown into skips. The right to shelter in routinely abused. The state refuses to provide any access to water within a reasonable distance of living sites and organisations under our umbrella are threatened with fines for distributing warm meals. In early October a French court revoked some of these bans, but others remain in place.

November 24th will mark the one year anniversary since the drowning which claimed over 31 lives in the Channel. They died because they were seeking safety and a better life. They died because the UK’s asylum system is broken. People have the right to seek asylum, but in limiting people’s options to arrive to the UK safely you are forcing them to undertake horrendous, life-threatening journeys.

Whilst the media attention has moved on from Calais, organisations continue to stand alongside people seeking safety. Your Government mocks the rights of those fleeing war by accusing them in turn of an ‚invasion‘. As long as people seeking asylum, reuniting with their families and a new home are ignored and harassed by the authorities, we’ll be here in solidarity.


Calais Food Collective, Auberge des Migrants (Human Rights Observers, The Woodyard), Refugee Women’s Centre, Refugee Info Bus, Collective Aid, Refugee Community Kitchen, Project Play, Utopia 56