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Monday, March 27, 2017

Articles related to Seeking Sanctuary


Calais: Things have never been so tough
Calais: Things have never been so tough

News from those working in Calais is that things have never been so tough. The French 'welcome centres' distributed across the country may have provided a solution for some people, but for those where it didn't, conditions are worse than the Jungle ever was. There are hundreds of refugees, mostly minors, sleeping rough on the streets of Calais and Paris with no access to

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Vatican official visits agencies working with refugees
Vatican official visits agencies working with refugees

Monsignor Anthony Figueiredo of the Migrants and Refugees section of the Vatican's new Dicastery for the Promotion of Integral Human Development visited CAFOD and Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN) this week, to hear about their work with refugees. In particular, Mgr Figueiredo was interested in the work of CSAN member Seeking Sanctuary and their grassroots work delivering material aid to refugees at Calais and raising

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Charities protest at government's  'reprehensible decision' on child refugees
Charities protest at government's 'reprehensible decision' on child refugees

On 7th March MPs voted 287-267 to close the Dubs Amendment, and to shut the door on 2650 unaccompanied child refugees living without protection in Europe. This is a reprehensible decision. The Children and Social Work Bill was proposed to have an amendment by MP Heidi Allen, which required the government to assess each local council's space allocation for unaccompanied minors.

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Calais: Catholic charity struggles to help stranded child refugees
Calais: Catholic charity struggles to help stranded child refugees

While recent news has focussed on the UK government's decision to renege on their promise to take 3,000 lone refugee children - volunteers in France are struggling to cope with hundreds of children - who've no longer even had the shelter of the 'Jungle' through this cold winter. At the very end of January, the Calais Council registered a complaint against some exiled minors who had been found sheltering from the rain beneath one of the building modules of the Secours Catholique Day Centre, while waiting for it to open. The charge is: 'installation on the property of others'.

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Campaigners urge Theresa May not to abandon lone child refugees  + PETITION
Campaigners urge Theresa May not to abandon lone child refugees + PETITION

Charities and groups working with unaccompanied child refugees have expressed grave concern after the government announced yesterday that it cancelled plans to bring 3,000 children to the UK. Phil Kerton, from Seeking Sanctuary, which works with Secours Catholique in Calais offering food, clothing and basic medical help to refugees, appealed for "individuals and faith groups to speak out, preferably by writing to their MPs and asking them to make the Home Secretary aware of their concerns."

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Seeking Sanctuary - update on Calais refugees
Seeking Sanctuary - update on Calais refugees

All the reports we heard point to the fact that the crisis in Calais has not gone away - it has merely gone underground. Estimates vary but it is thought that between 200 and 800 people have newly arrived or have left the CAO centres to which they were transported in various locations across France, and have returned to Calais. Here, they are eking out a fragile existence in disused warehouses, in fields and ditches and in other spots where they cannot be seen since otherwise they risk arrest by the Police who are still very active.

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URGENT Appeal to help refugees sleeping outdoors in France
URGENT Appeal to help refugees sleeping outdoors in France

Since the break up of the 'Jungle' at Calais, many refugees in France have no where to shelter and are being forced to sleep out in the open - while temperatures have gone well below freezing. The charity Care4Calais has two warehouses in Calais which are acting as hubs to get various types of donation to places where they are needed, not solely to areas close to Calais and Dunkirk. This week they have run out of sleeping bags. Demand has been particularly high in Paris, where there are insufficient places in the official shelter and people queue outside all day and night to await entry.

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Calais: A new chapter starts
Calais: A new chapter starts

I set off to drive to Dover on the last day of November to make my first visit to Calais since the destruction of the 'Jungle' camp. The temperature was permanently below zero as I headed East along the A2 and M2, with the blinding morning sun ahead of me. I had already packed goods from a variety donors into the car and met up with Ben and his son to add an even larger quantity principally collected by the people of St Aidan's church in Coulsdon. Ben also handed over a large amount of cash which had been raised in recent weeks to support the continuing work in Calais.

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Seeking Sanctuary appeals for solidarity with remaining refugees in Calais
Seeking Sanctuary appeals for solidarity with remaining refugees in Calais

The story of exiles currently and recently stuck in Calais has entered a new chapter, but they are all still in need, especially the young people. Judged solely by numerical data, the exercise to remove residents and clear the 'jungle' in Calais site was a success. The aim of officials to remove the camp before November became known at the start of September and people endured weeks of uncertainty before the eventual start date of 24 October was announced... More than 2000 people disappeared during this period to unknown destinations.

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Calais Poem: This WAS our Church
Calais Poem: This WAS our Church

To the Church of St Michael in the Jungle, Calais

'Our prayers have risen to the Lord
Not in a glorious building
But in a tent which has been an a symbol of hope
To so many trapped in the jungle around us.

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Calais children: Message from Bishop Jonathan Clark, Citizens UK
Calais children: Message from Bishop Jonathan Clark, Citizens UK

Yesterday I was with faith and community leaders at St Michael's Church in Croydon, waiting to welcome a handful of children from the Jungle Camp in Calais. As the children walked off the coach we all felt joy that our campaign had made a difference. Every child rescued is a victory we should celebrate. But there are hundreds left, and every child left unprotected in the Jungle Camp in Calais is one too many. The Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, has promised that 'more' will be arriving in the coming days. But how many? And when?

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 Seeking Sanctuary says: 'Bring the children NOW !'
Seeking Sanctuary says: 'Bring the children NOW !'

In the confusion and squalor of the Calais jungle, hundreds of unaccompanied children await their fate. There have been reports that 10 per cent of the children identified in August as eligible to come to the UK have gone missing, very possibly at the hands of traffickers. Ben Bano, from Seeking Sanctuary who has 40 years experience in social work, said: '"This situation is intolerable. These children who have been traumatised by their experiences of war and genocide need sanctuary and safety immediately.

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Campaigners voice fears over impending clearance of Calais 'Jungle'
Campaigners voice fears over impending clearance of Calais 'Jungle'

..."The plans may appear sound, but France's track record in implementing government plans is poor. The "evacuation" of the southern part of the camp in May was supposed to proceed with calm, with due respect for human rights and without the use of force. Instead a considerable force of riot police arrived with their usual supplies of tear-gas, backed up by bulldozers and people were instructed - in language that many did not comprehend - to immediately leave their dwellings or be forcibly evicted. A mosque and a church were demolished and attempts to observe and record events were

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French bishops support impending closure of Calais Jungle
French bishops support impending closure of Calais Jungle

The Pastoral Care of Migrants of the Conference of Bishops of France, has accepted the general thrust of government plans to dismantle and relocate Calais refugees, saying it was "controversial, but going in the right direction." In a statement (originally published on 19 September, but translated into English this week by Seeking Sanctuary), the bishops invite Christian activists to 'mobilise in favour of a culture of encounter.' Faced with hostility from many elected officials, the letter calls upon Christians to mobilise action to receive migrants in reception and orientation centres

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Latest news of Calais Jungle from 'Seeking Sanctuary'
Latest news of Calais Jungle from 'Seeking Sanctuary'

The main informal ("Jungle") camp in Calais is now scheduled to be removed during October, but the people will still be in need somewhere in France. In addition, about 2000 may remain for a while in official shelters in Calais and certainly about 1500 more in the Grande Synthe camp near Dunkirk, not to mention those who "fade away" locally.

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Calais: Secours Catholique opens new building to host asylum seekers
Calais: Secours Catholique opens new building to host asylum seekers

After a "long struggle" Secours Catholique (Caritas France) have announced that they are now able to host asylum seekers in a new building within the town of Calais rather than in the impermanent 'Jungle' camp. Vincent de Connick, manager of Secours Catholique in the Calais region, said: "For us, it's about having the ability to receive our migrant friends in a different setting, in town, in a more dignified way, for a distribution of clothes where they can have a choice, without needing to queue and with a different type of welcome

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Letter from Seeking Sanctuary on Calais Jungle
Letter from Seeking Sanctuary on Calais Jungle

Have you been in a restaurant recently and become impatient if your food has not arrived after half and hour or so? The migrants in Calais face up to a four hour wait in the sun to get their one meal of the day - so it is no wonder if tensions rise. The independent restaurants, although 'reprieved' by a court judgement, are still unable to cook food as this has been banned by the authorities. And at the moment, the 'official' kitchen only serves 3900 of the 9000+ meals actually needed if people are to eat once a day.

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'Kids Cafe' in Calais Jungle saved from demolition
'Kids Cafe' in Calais Jungle saved from demolition

The Lille Administrative Court announced today that it has rejected the application of the Pas-de-Calais prefecture to begin shutting down small businesses and cafes in the "jungle" refugee camp at Calais. In his Order, the judge considered that "the concerns expressed by the Prefect of Pas-de-Calais are quite understandable" but that "the conditions of urgency and utility required" by law "are not fulfilled to justify" the request "for expulsion of the operators of 72 illegal sales structures identified"on the site.

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Campaigners urge action to help unaccompanied child refugees
Campaigners urge action to help unaccompanied child refugees

While adults argue about politics, most of the thousands of unaccompanied refugee children in Europe are still being ignored and fending for themselves. The Kent-based charity Seeking Sanctuary writes: The plight of children in the camps of the North of France has long been a priority concern for us. Two well-researched reports have recently come our way. Both confirm that vulnerable children are suffering violence, trafficking and abuse and that they are not getting any useful or understandable information to help them to make informed

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Thirty migrants join Calais 'jungle' and Dunkirk camp daily
Thirty migrants join Calais 'jungle' and Dunkirk camp daily

The population of the Calais and Dunkirk camps has again risen beyond 5000 and grows at the rate of some 30 new souls daily. The site of the Calais 'jungle' has changed greatly since the destruction of many dwellings in February, but the camp has not gone away, with thousands of migrants still relying on aid and the hard work of volunteers.

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Seeking Sanctuary appeals for action from everyone on child refugees
Seeking Sanctuary appeals for action from everyone on child refugees

Thanks to Lord Dubs and his supporters, the 2016 Immigration Act obliges the government to take action to help unaccompanied refugee children who are already in Europe to come and resettle in the UK. But Phil Kerton and Ben Beno from the charity Seeking Sanctuary have expressed concern that time is passing and children are still on their own in potentially dangerous situations - living in poor conditions with inadequate shelter, hygiene and nutrition, missing out on education and secure home life essential to their development.

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Urgent appeal from Calais and Dunkirk refugee camps
Urgent appeal from Calais and Dunkirk refugee camps

Seeking Sanctuary, the Kent-based charity which is supporting refugees in the camps in northern France has sent us this message. A volunteer writes: We are critically low on many many items, the flow of donations has ceased, and by Friday we will have no shoes, no t-shirts, no jumpers. We shortly will have no new clothes for new arrivals to provide them with warmth, a basic human right. That said, we have an abundance of other items, and for that reason, we cannot currently take items that are not on this list.

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Calais refugees: Where are the missing children?
Calais refugees: Where are the missing children?

In a statement over the weekend, the charity Seeking Sanctuary has raised questions about a number of children who have not been seen since the authorities bulldozed part of the 'Jungle' camp near Calais. They said: "Seeking Sanctuary like many other humanitarian organisations is increasingly concerned about the fate of the potentially hundreds of missing children from the 'Jungle' camp in Calais. Following recent clearances by the French authorities a census by Help Refugees UK shows that 129 children went missing during the

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Calais refugees: 129 children missing
Calais refugees: 129 children missing

As the better weather sets in our thoughts turn to all our friends who are still without proper shelter in Northern France. Since the recent clearance of the southern part of the Calais 'jungle', many people are now in even worse conditions as they seek to survive crammed in to in the remaining part of the camp. The clearance has left the Eritrean Church 'high and dry' and no longer the focal point of the Eritrean community which it has been up to now.

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Calais Jungle hunger strikers end protest
Calais Jungle hunger strikers end protest

The group of refugees on hunger strike at the Jungle in Calais (among them several Christians escaping persecution) have issued this statement today. They have just ended their action, after a number of meetings with representatives from UNHCR, aid agencies and politicians. They write: We would like to extend our deep condolences to the people of Brussels and all the victims of Tuesday's attacks. It is from this same violence and terror that so many of the people of The Jungle are running.

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Urgent appeal from Calais: Please do not stop bringing aid!
Urgent appeal from Calais: Please do not stop bringing aid!

There is a crisis of aid supplies in Calais right now. Because of the demolition of the 'Jungle' people assume Calais is 'over' and they've stopped bringing donations, BUT there are thousands of people still there and need help more than ever. On Monday, 1,300 people in Dunkirk started to move into a new MSF-built camp. However, due to the risk of scabies, people will not be able to bring their possessions or clothes with them from the previous unhealthy site. This means that a new set of clothes, boots, sleeping bag - and

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Calais - Charity says: 'Bring the children to sanctuary and safety'
Calais - Charity says: 'Bring the children to sanctuary and safety'

The charity Seeking Sanctuary, which organises basic humanitarian assistance for the refugees and migrants in the Calais 'Jungle' through Faith Communities and Community Organisations in partnership with experienced aid agencies such as 'Secours Catholique' - said in a statement today: 'We support the recent comments of the Bishop of Dover condemning the use of tear gas near children present in the Calais "Jungle" camp. We are very concerned for the welfare of unaccompanied minors in Calais, some of who are as young as ten,

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Care4Calais condemns French authorities' harsh evictions in Calais Jungle
Care4Calais condemns French authorities' harsh evictions in Calais Jungle

...In a press conference last week the Prefecture assured journalists that the dismantling of the southern part of the camp would be gradual, humane and respectful to the dignity of the people living in the camp. The Minister of the Interior, Bernard Cazenove, reiterated this insisting the approach would be humanitarian. The lawyer from the Prefecture at the hearing last Tuesday said that the two key reasons for evacuating the Jungle were the dignity of refugees and their security.

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   Seeking Sanctuary says
Seeking Sanctuary says "No" to enforced expulsions in Calais

.."In an inhumane and clumsy measure, taking place in the bleakest of winter weather, French authorities are about to clear a large area of the Calais "Jungle" camp. This adds to the January clearance that culminated in the destruction of a church and a mosque. On that occasion most dwellings were moved into vacant spaces, but that solution cannot be applied now because the area to be evicted is too big, and the remaining vacant area is too small to accept more residents...

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French authorities bulldoze church and mosque in Calais 'Jungle'
French authorities bulldoze church and mosque in Calais 'Jungle'

Faith and human rights groups have expressed their shock today after the French authorities destroyed a mosque and an evangelical Church in the 'jungle' refugee camp at Calais. In spite of assurances given earlier not to disturb places of worship, the Prefect ordered in bulldozers which destroyed the flimsy buildings within minutes. Ben Bano from the Kent-based charity Seeking Sanctuary, said: 'The destruction of these places of worship is at odds with the fundamental human right to worship freely according to the beliefs and principles.of all those in the jungle.

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 Seeking Sanctuary says: 'Let the children in...'
Seeking Sanctuary says: 'Let the children in...'

Following the recent court case in Boulogne when a British citizen was acquitted after an attempt to smuggle a four year old girl through border controls, Seeking Sanctuary is urging a humanitarian response to the problem of young children being left to fend for themselves in the 'jungles' in and near Calais. The say in a statement: "We support the campaign and ask all the faith communities and other organisations with which we are in touch to lobby to allow into Britain up to three thousand vulnerable minors currently in Europe who have already experienced the trauma of war and genocide, in many cases leaving them without their parents.

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Emergency Appeal for funds to help Calais refugees
Emergency Appeal for funds to help Calais refugees

Seeking Sanctuary is launching an emergency appeal for funds to relieve the immediate human suffering following the recent heavy rain and high winds in Northern France. With the torrential rain and wind, and now freezing weather predicted for January and February, conditions in the camp have worsened and are deteriorating still more. Tents cannot survive these conditions, especially as the ground (an old landfill site and swamp among sand dunes) is not suitable for firmly securing guy ropes.

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Calais: New Year letter from Seeking Sanctuary
Calais: New Year letter from Seeking Sanctuary

2015 has passed by with no sign of significant improvements to the situation in Calais. There has been an amazing increase in the number residing near the town. Official figures put the population at just under 1000 in July 2014, and this more than doubled by November, remaining below about 2500 until June 2015. A further1000 arrived by September and then mushroomed again to at least 6000. Conditions were dire when a "Day of Solidarity" took place on 19 September and the UN Secretary General's Special Representative for Migration visited

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Dignity, medicines, nits and scabies: reflections on Calais, Dec 2015
Dignity, medicines, nits and scabies: reflections on Calais, Dec 2015

On Wednesday, I had a powerful lesson in dignity that will stay with me for life. I wasn't prepared for it - I had thought Wednesday would be about medicines. It was, mainly, and I'll come back to that, but first I would like to invite you to remember the last time you went shopping for a pair of trousers - for yourself, or someone else. Consider this scene; at the care4calais aid warehouse, about 400 pairs of jeans sorted into boxes by size, from 28" to 36" waist. No further sorting is practical - so different colours, and different leg sizes,

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Appeal for refugees in Calais
Appeal for refugees in Calais

As the cold weather sets in, and more refugees arrive at the Jungle in Calais each week, charities working there have put out the following appeal: Seeking Sanctuary write: "Rumours that Calais now has no need of any donated goods are false! Like other groups, L'Auberge des Migrants urgently needs a number of items at its operational warehouse, especially following damage to 'jungle' dwellings by fire and gales. A link to one 'want list' (updated weekly)

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Calais: Hope and faith amidst relentless rain and biting cold
Calais: Hope and faith amidst relentless rain and biting cold

The relentless, soaking, miserable rain, and the biting, to-the-marrow cold, will be my abiding memory of yesterday. From ten minutes after stepping out of the minibus, to some hours after getting home, I was not once warm or dry - and it feels pretty indulgent to write that, because for those living in Calais that is their permanent reality, with precious few places to become warm or dry. It is bleak, and heartbreaking: the Calais Jungle is 22 miles from our coast. Would any of us want

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Fire at 'The Jungle' in Calais
Fire at 'The Jungle' in Calais

A fire broke out at 'The Jungle' refugee camp in Calais yesterday morning. No one has been been seriously injured but 70 tents were destroyed. Phil Kerton, from the Kent-based charity Seeking Sanctuary sends this report: A fire broke out amonst closely crowded tents in the 'Sudanese quarter' at around 00.45am this morning. The cause of the fire appears to be people drifting off to sleep leaving a candle alight. Fire spread quickly due to the wind and people were running around trying to evacuate the area and get people to safety.

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Petitions in support of Calais migrants
Petitions in support of Calais migrants

As the nights draw in and the cold weather approaches, more and more refugees are arriving at 'The Jungle' in Calais, where there are few facilities and people are huddled in makeshift shelters and tents without light or heating. Some people have asked about petitions and letter-writing campaigns. As an initial response, here is a list of the current constructive petitions regarding Calais that have been supplied by Phil Kerton and Ben Bano from the Seeking Sanctuary charity in Kent.. Please get in touch if you know of more that could be added.

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Calais Jungle - 'There are now 300 new arrivals every week'
Calais Jungle - 'There are now 300 new arrivals every week'

I cannot find words to describe how humbling and saddening it is to hand another human being a little packet of such basic essentials and to be met with such evident need, and such gratitude. Perhaps the most telling thing is that the 1,000 packets were transported in larger boxes and bags - and yet now the minibus is totally empty of all packaging. Why? Because the 6,000 people living in the Calais jungle are so desperate for any scrap of usable material that even the empty boxes and bags were eagerly taken away.

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Calais: Risk of cholera in refugee camp as conditions worsen
Calais: Risk of cholera in refugee camp as conditions worsen

A report from Birmingham University reveals not just the squalor but dangerous health risks to the men, women and children at the 'Jungle' refugee camp in Calais - just 20 miles from the Kent coast. Aid workers also discourage all non-essential visits to the camp. Phil Kerton and Ben Bano from the charity Seeking Sanctuary write: "..there is now a risk of cholera and other diseases. In parts of the jungle there are one or two toilets for 500 people and these are often full to overflowing. The refusal of the French authorities to provide any litter collections means

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Essex: Basildon parish appeals for aid for refugees in Calais
Essex: Basildon parish appeals for aid for refugees in Calais

Basildon Catholics are appealing for aid for the migrants suffering in Calais. Parish priest of Our Lady & All Saints in Basildon, Fr Dominic Howarth, said: "Our sisters and brothers of all faiths living in the Calais 'jungle' need urgent help: this week Secours Catholique - a charity supporting the migrants - ran out of blankets." The appeal comes in a month which saw Bishop Lynch, Bishop for Migrants in England & Wales, express great concern for the deepening humanitarian crisis in Calais and call for a coordinated and compassionate international response to the challenge of

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Letter: Migrants are human beings

Further to Bishop Pat Lynch's recent welcome statement, which mentions the good work being done in Calais and the UK, Ben Bano writes from 'Seeking Sanctuary' - a group which speaks on behalf of migrants and asylum seekers and organises collections of useful items for migrants in Calais. (For information on how to help please contact Ben on 07887 651117 or visit the website at www.seekingsanctuary.weebly.com)

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Calais: Charity calls for end  to demonisation of migrants
Calais: Charity calls for end to demonisation of migrants

Seeking Sanctuary - a charity organising basic humanitarian aid for the 3,000 migrants mostly sleeping rough outside Calais is becoming increasingly concerned, as are other organisations, about migrants in Calais being 'demonised' as a result of the traffic chaos and delays in Kent. They write in a statement today. FACT: The numbers reported to be entering the Eurotunnel site are likely to be greatly exaggerated - and diminishing as new security measures come into place.

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