Category Archives: Refugee Crisis

Refugees applying to live in UK face being sent home after five years

 guardian.com  (09.03.17) reports that:
Tens of thousands of refugees who apply to live permanently in Britain are to be required to undergo an official review to see if it is safe for them to be sent back home, under new Home Office instructions.
 
The new policy of reviewing whether all refugees still require protection five years after they first obtained asylum in Britain was quietly slipped out on Thursday and it is believed to take immediate effect.

Read more here

*** NJPN Action of the Week *** Citizens UK: Theresa May – Do not abandon the Dubs scheme for Refugee Children

An urgent appeal from Lord Dubs

Theresa May has decided to shut down the Dubs Scheme – a promise by the Government to bring the most vulnerable refugee children to safety in the UK.
 
Our country has a proud tradition of welcoming those most in need. We stepped up to rescue 10,000 Jewish children from Nazi persecution.
I myself arrived in the UK by the Kindertransport.
Now more than ever we must stand by our values.
Thousands of children we promised to help are still in danger. 
Britain is better than this. 

Click here to keep the Dubs Scheme alive:
Yours,
Lord Alf Dubs

More information here

 

NJPN action of the week: Stop refugees freezing to death In Greece

People are at imminent risk of freezing to death because European leaders are failing to help them. As heavy snow and sub-zero temperatures hit Greece, thousands of people are being held in makeshift detention camps on the Greek islands.
 
Women, men and children could freeze to death as arctic weather sweeps across the Greek islands. Trapped in squalid detention camps, refugees are surviving in flimsy, snow-covered tents as temperatures plummet below zero. No one should be left to live or die like this.
 
We all have the right to seek safety, to escape war and persecution.

Call on the President of the European Commission to ensure that people are moved to a safe place on the mainland now.

Seeking Sanctuary: update for the end of October.

Phil Kerton and Ben Bano have issued the following plea for prayers and ongoing practical support for all those facing an uncertain future as a result of the order for demolition of the ‘Calais Jungle’ Please support their Christmas card initiative as well as the ‘little bags of love and hope’

Dear Friends

This is probably one of the most difficult updates that we have had to prepare. As we write there is a prayer vigil going on in the Eritrean Church – bulldozers are close by but no one has yet given the order for demolition – although this could happen at any time. Is there a last-minute pang of conscience? We simply don’t know. Those responsible for the upkeep of the Church have been prevented from returning there and we await firm news of the final fate of the beautiful icons (one appearing on our Christmas card) which have been rescued in the hope that they can adorn an Orthodox Christian Church in France.

Our feelings after the expulsion of residents from the camp are very mixed. While we are pleased that our migrant friends are able to get away from the squalid and dangerous conditions of the ‘jungle’, many face an uncertain future in ‘Welcome and Orientation Centres’ at locations that are often in remote parts of the French countryside with populations that are often wary, if not hostile.

We believe that many will make their way back to Calais and there is already evidence of new arrivals settling in clandestine ‘mini-jungles’ nearby. Another large group of people, around 1000, are still in the camp near Dunkirk. We have been asked if we have a role in the new situation and the answer is a resounding YES. In addition to helping the migrants in Dunkirk (who require at least 800 daily meals) we will try to establish where the needs are and act accordingly. And so for those of you who have shown an interest: please continue with the ‘little bags of love and hope’ initiative.

Thanks also to those of you who have been in touch with us about Christmas cards – the front cover has a particular poignancy at the moment and 2000 of the cards are being distributed. The artist will receive a further royalty and the proceeds will go to the Refugee Community Kitchen which is still preparing a large number of meals for Dunkirk and elsewhere.

Christmas cards and ‘little bags of love and hope’

Alongside all this, the 1500-place container dormitory in its fenced compound now contains 1800 unaccompanied minors and dozens more are sheltering nearby, not far from the 400 women and children in the Jules Ferry Centre. These people, approximately 2500 in total (with scores more arriving daily), also need shoes, clothes and daily meals – and above all, human companionship. A good number are eligible to find refuge in the UK, but most have endured the extra trauma of being shoved from pillar to post by confused officials both during their official registration and the departure of adult buses.

Please continue your prayers.

Ben + Phil.

Faith and Frontiers Today: Project Bonhoeffer

The 2016 Day conference of Project Bonhoeffer will take place on Saturday 5 November in Coventry Cathedral.

The question for consideration at this year’s gathering will be:
What is our role and responsibility as citizens of the UK and Europe for the security and welfare of refugees and migrants?

Guest speakers will be:

Esther Reed – Associate Professor and Director of the Network for Religion in Public Life at the University of Exeter.

Ben Bano– Founder of Seeking Sanctuary which is a Kent based organisation which seeks to raise awareness of the plight of migrants and refugees in the Calais jungle and Northern France

For more information and to book a place

CALAIS: Closure Looms – Our Christmas Appeal and Calls for Action

LATEST NEWS from Seeking Sanctuary

The main informal (“Jungle”) camp 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.

It’s going to be a tough and emotional few weeks: so we all need to pull together to make sure we get huge amounts of aid ready to help people as they move to official dispersal centres or to informal squats and small local camps. We need to remember that these could well be in isolated places which will be hard to reach for volunteers and NGOs.

At the moment we can only guess at who will go where and what they will need, but people on the ground are making educated guesses and more news will arrive in the coming weeks. At the moment, warm sleeping bags are a priority because some folk are already leaving, intending to sleep rough in the area from Calais to the Belgian border. You can buy them here for free delivery to Calais: or collect or buy yourself and send them across. Rucksacks, wheeled suitcases and tents (portable, but warm) are also a top priority. Pots and pans will also be appreciated, so that people are able to cook their own food when scarce resources permit. (And the usual items of clothing, food and equipment are still needed while “business as usual” continues.)

CHRISTMAS APPEAL

At Christmas many will want to support the Calais migrants, wherever they are dispersed to. We plan to repeat last year’s initiative – ‘Little bags of love and hope’. Typical contents should include some of the following (suitable for the young men): a wind-up torch (or torch plus spare batteries), deodorant, scarf, hat, gloves (fabric or leather – not knitted) and a small pack of nuts or dried fruit. If your parish or community would like to take part, please let us know by emailing migrantsupport@aol.com or calling 07887 651117 .

Please don’t send unhealthy sweets; and don’t use Christmas wrapping or mention the Christian festival in greetings – most recipients will be Muslim, just make things generically festive, perhaps expressing hope for better times in 2017. Gifts for Northern France should be mainly for teenage-to-twenties young men, so please don’t include teddy bears and cosmetics! Despite the “bags” in the title, you can pack in boxes, bags or parcels, as is most convenient. Keep your words simple, as few recipients will be accustomed to reading our Western alphabet.

We also intend to have a Christmas card ready shortly, featuring a beautiful picture of the Madonna and Child painted earlier this year by an Eritrean artist in the jungle (attached). All proceeds will be for the Calais appeal and the maintenance of the Eritrean Church. Please let us know if you are interested in these – and we will send you further details when they are available. The price will be £3.50 for ten cards, plus postage.

ACTION

We’ve added a list of some current relevant petitions to the website, along with a report on an interview on Premier Radio – and, moreover, we attach the excellent detailed proposals from Citizens-UK about working for the rapid safe transfer to the UK of vulnerable unaccompanied children and young people.

With renewed thanks for all your help. Do keep up your interest and commitment to the cause.

Phil + Ben.

About ‘Seeking Sanctuary’. There are now over 10,000 migrants in and around Calais (September 2016) and many more near Dunkirk . ‘Seeking Sanctuary’ aims to raise awareness about this situation and is organising basic humanitarian assistance through Faith Communities and Community Organisations in partnership with experienced aid workers.
For further information on how you or your organisation can help, contact Ben Bano on 07887 651117 or Phil Kerton on 01474 873802. For the latest news: check our web site

Seeking Sanctuary – September Update

Dear Friends,

Have you been in a restaurant recently and become impatient if your food has not arrived after half an 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, hence the vital contribution of the other kitchens such as the ‘Refugee Community Kitchen’ which now cooks 2500 free meals per day. We were in Calais and the ‘jungle’ last week and we were able to give the kitchen €650 which had been donated by a generous parish in the North West of England. The other kitchens that provide free meals have also increased their weekly output by a total of 1000 over the past fortnight to try to compensate for the current closure of other outlets. Sadly, the ‘Belgium Kitchen’ fears that it may soon have to close down due to a lack of donations.

The kitchen estimates that at least £1.50 is needed to feed someone each day, so many thousands of pounds are needed just to keep the kitchen going for a week. Where possible, ingredients are delivered to different areas of the camp for people who have pots and pans to do their own cooking, as this provides both autonomy and a degree of dignity – but gas bottles are in short supply.

On our visit last week we were able to deliver several hundred books to ‘Jungle Books’, which is based in several shacks near the Eritrean Church, and manned by some committed volunteers. There is a keen appetite to learn and to keep informed. There are many people with professional qualifications who are keen to keep up their knowledge and learn English terminology, not least for future CV’s. Outside the shack an Adult Education Class was in full flow and youngsters were studying in another shelter. Gifts of exercise books and pencils are much appreciated.

It’s always a pleasure to visit the Eritrean Church. In this oasis of peace and tranquillity members of the Eritrean Community provide a welcome and spiritual refreshment. In front of the Church was a newly painted picture of the Virgin Mary and Christ in honour of the Assumption – attached – and at the side of the Church a young man was painting a scene of the Last Supper. In the midst of all the rubble and dirt a flower garden has been created as a contrast to the rather dismal surroundings – and there are even two chickens!

As Christmas approaches many of you will be thinking about how best to support the migrants in Calais. We are able to give advice on where cash donations can be sent. We are also planning to repeat the initiative from last year – ‘little bags of love and hope’. We are yet to establish a final list, but it is likely that typical contents could include items from the following list, suitable for the young men who make up the vast majority of the camp residents: a wind-up torch (or torch plus spare batteries), deodorant, scarf, hat, gloves (fabric or leather – not knitted) and a small pack of nuts or dried fruit. If you know of a Faith Community or other group interested in taking part in this initiative, please do let us know so that we can help to make the process as efficient and effective as possible.

With best wishes,

Phil and Ben.

About ‘Seeking Sanctuary’. There are now some 9000 migrants in and around Calais (August 2016) and many more near Dunkirk . ‘Seeking Sanctuary’ aims to raise awareness about this situation and is organising basic humanitarian assistance through Faith Communities and Community Organisations in partnership with experienced aid workers.

for more information click here

Seeking Sanctuary: “the issue of migration to Calais is not going away”

In the August update Seeking sanctuary reports that “It’s now a year since Seeking Sanctuary became active in organising much-needed aid for Calais. In that time we have had the privilege of responding to numerous offers of help as well as helping to channel significant sums of money raised by well-wishers such as yourselves to the places where it is most needed. When we look back over the last year, there is much to be thankful for in spite of the dismal conditions of the “jungle”. The plight of so many migrants inspired hundreds of volunteers and newly created voluntary organisations which proved essential, given the lack of will of both the British and the French governments to tackle the problems on a more strategic scale. And the reactions from so many organisations, including Faith Communities and schools and numerous other organisations have been nothing short of inspiring. And a special word of thanks to the Religious Communities who continue to support us with their prayers, good wishes and material support. We estimate that during the year we have raised over £30,000 to pass on to those who deliver to the needy in Calais and Dunkirk, as well as assisting in the start-up of other groups who have raised yet more cash, as well as collecting and delivering significant quantities of clothes, toiletries, food and other essentials.

The latest census shows that the issue of migration to Calais is not going away – if anything it is getting worse, with an estimated 7000 people now living in often squalid conditions in about half of the original “jungle” area. The attitude of the French authorities continues to be ambivalent and highly confrontational and there are rumours that the authorities intend to demolish the rest of the jungle during September. The informal restaurants and shops on which the camp economy has depended have been closed down or severely restricted with the authorities confiscating much of the stock. And yet life goes on – new services meet the needs of children and of women have sprung up and others specialise in all sorts of fields: medical and social care, entertainment, education, drainage, waste management, to name but a few. The number of unaccompanied children has reached record levels and now stands at 608.

We continue to advocate for these children to have their claims expedited to be reunited with relatives in the UK – as well as the inhumanity of leaving children as young as eight on their own there is a real risk of trafficking through abduction. And in spite of the efforts of a committed group of social workers, who go to Calais weekly to help to prepare some of the required documentation, recent legal judgements are making the process ever more difficult and protracted.Today, the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee has issued a report on the Migration Crisis. It comments that ‘It is clear that many people in these camps [in Europe] are entitled to humanitarian protection or refugee status, and that their claims should be processed in the UK. Much more could and should be done through family reunion and accepting unaccompanied children, including increased use of safe and legal migration routes. … … the 157 unaccompanied children now in Calais who have family members in the UK “should already have arrived” in the UK. The Government should as a one-off accept all of these children into the UK now. ‘

Our appeal this month is the same – in whatever situation you find yourself, please do everything possible to ensure that the plight of migrants on our doorstep and beyond is not forgotten. Lobbying your MP and local Councillors or organising a social gathering to raise funds are all ways in which we can ensure that in this currently xenophobic climate, the needs of so many destitute people on our doorstep are not forgotten.

On the domestic front, on appeal, the UK Court of Appeal yesterday considerably tightened up on the conditions under which vulnerable people in Calais and other places can make a direct application to the UK to join family members already resident. Instead, they must work through the often prolonged “Dublin III” process in the country in which they are temporarily resident. On the other hand, our government has finally come up with a methodology for approving groups to run community sponsorship schemes, so providing an additional a way to get involved in supporting the resettlement of vulnerable people who flee conflict”

Ben + Phil.

For more information click here: