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Tim Farron urges Theresa May to address the Humanitarian Crisis in Calais

August 19, 2015 4:12 PM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has written to Theresa May to urge her to address the humanitarian crisis in Calais at her upcoming meeting with French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve.


Tim Farron visited the Jules Ferry migrant support centre in Calais earlier this month to meet with refugees and organisations working in the area. He is calling for there to be more support and funding to tackle the lack of water, sanitation and medical supplies in the area.

Tim urged the Government to do more to reunite family members of those who have applied for asylum in the UK who are separated from their loved ones in Calais or elsewhere.

He also welcomed the Government's steps taken to improve the security at the Eurotunnel,

The full copy of Tim's letter is below:

Dear Theresa,

I am writing to you about the humanitarian crisis in Calais ahead of your meeting with French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve later this week.

I welcome the measures the Government has already taken to improve the security situation at the Eurotunnel and reduce the disruption which has been caused for British businesses and holidaymakers, but am writing to ask that the UK do more to ensure that the humanitarian crisis in Calais is properly recognised and addressed.

Having visited the Jules Ferry migrant support centre in Calais and met with organisations working on the ground, it is clear that many of those living in "the jungle" are refugees fleeing war and persecution. The organisations who are currently working to support these very vulnerable people are under extreme pressure. The conditions in Calais fall far short of international standards on the treatment and welfare of refugees. Water and sanitation are all in short supply and medical support stretched beyond capacity. Many are being forced to subsist on the one meal a day that the centre is able to provide. More funding and better coordination are urgently needed, and the UK needs to do more. It is absolutely right that we work together with the French to fund improvements in security at the Eurotunnel and action on people trafficking, but the humanitarian support that is so desperately needed must also be adequately funded.

The terrifying conflicts that have forced so many people to flee their homes have also torn families apart, with mothers separated from sons and daughters, and husbands separated from their wives. This is a horrifying situation which none of us would ever want to find ourselves in. We have a responsibility, under the Dublin Regulation, to do more to help those whose family members are already in the UK. We must work much more closely with the French on this, as well as ensuring that the hundreds of refugees who are claiming asylum in Calais every week are processed as quickly as possible, and treated with the dignity they deserve. I call on you to ensure that these areas are fully addressed in any further agreement with the French this week, and that all further measures recognise and address the humanitarian crisis alongside security issues.

I also ask again that you reconsider your decision that the UK will not opt-in to the European Union Committee's draft proposals on relocation of the most vulnerable migrants from Italy and Greece (COM(2015) 286 final). Over the last few weeks we have seen ever greater tragedies caused by the current migration crisis, with more lives lost in the Mediterranean, the chaos and inhumanity of treatment of desperate migrants reaching the Greek Islands.

It is now more important than ever that the UK is willing to work with our European partners in finding genuine solutions to this humanitarian crisis and offer protection to some of the most vulnerable refugees from the conflict-torn states of Iraq, Eritrea and Syria.

Kind regards,

Tim Farron MP,
Leader of the Liberal Democrats