Calais refugees send a beautiful message of empathy and solidarity with the victims, and their families, of the horrific attack that took place in Nice on Bastille Day.
While Refugees in Calais experience extreme violence, intimidation and harassment at the hands of French police and CRS, that shouldn’t detract from the kindness and friendship that many French people show to refugees living here.
In 2015, France accepted 20,630 asylum applications, almost twice as many as the UK’s 13,905.
There have been refugees in Calais, trying to make it to the UK, for over 10 years. Many local people have provided food, shelter, clothes and friendship, long before British volunteers started to arrive. L’auberge des migrants international is an excellent example of this.
UK shares responsibility for police brutality with the French state. In 2014, the UK committed £12m over three years to France to secure it’s border, which is now in France. As well as the three-year investment, the UK announced £2m extra for detection technology such as the heartbeat and carbon dioxide detectors, and £1m for more dog searches. Furthermore, in August 2015, the UK and France established a fresh agreement on new measures in Calais, including the deployment of 500 extra British and French police, at an additional 7 million over two years.
UK, French and international politics aside, during these difficult times for French people, as well as residents of the Jungle, it is beautiful to see messages, as well as acts of friendship and solidarity, that contradicts the violence that both Refugees and French people, have experienced and witnessed, over the past week.