Portsmouth campaigners show support for asylum seekers despite chaos in Calais ‘Jungle’ camp

Migrants and activists watch burning makeshift shelters set on fire in the camp near Calais
Migrants and activists watch burning makeshift shelters set on fire in the camp near Calais

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CAMPAIGNERS have pledged to keep supporting refugees despite problems in the Calais migrant camp.

Portsmouth’s pro-asylum community has rallied behind occupants of the so-called ‘Jungle’ in light of clashes with the French government.

These people in The Jungle have tried to build a community in very, very poor circumstances. They built a church, a mosque and a school, yet they had to have negotiations to prevent police from destroying the church.

Simon Magorian, of the Portsmouth Stand Up to Racism movement

Riot police this week clashed with families during moves to clear the ramshackle community.

Simon Magorian, of the Portsmouth Stand Up to Racism movement, say people are ‘terrified’ for their lives and aggressive tactics used by French authorities are making matters worse.

Stand Up to Racism is to stage a rally on March 14 in Guildhall Square to highlight how more must be done to help.

Mr Magorian said: ‘We are not just holding this event in solidarity with the refugees in Calais, but all refugees fleeing from war and injustice.

‘The antics of the city council in trying to remove Portsmouth as a asylum hub has quite clearly stirred up racial tensions in the city.

‘It is also seen considerable reaction to it in large-scale rallies in Guildhall Square and a demonstration organised by students to defend refugees.’

Mr Magorian, who sent over donations to the Jungle camp, added: ‘These people in the Jungle have tried to build a community in very, very poor circumstances.

‘They built a church, a mosque and a school, yet they had to have negotiations to prevent police from destroying the church. I’m not there but all of the reports I’m reading say there are very heavy-handed police and that has led to this situation.

‘Many people are terrified. If you have armed security people with guns, then it’s going to make people react in a certain way.’

Speakers at the rally will include Sabby Dhalu, Stand Up to Racism joint national secretary, Sandra Charles Portsmouth City Unison equalities officer and community activists Richie Moran and Zuber Hatia.

Meanwhile, Fareham MP Suella Fernandes says Britain should not be taking asylum seekers who have made it to France.

In a Commons debate, Ms Fernandes, a former barrister, reminded MPs that an accord already existed for asylum seekers to be dealt with at their first point of entry to the EU.

She said: ‘Before I entered this place, I worked as counsel on hundreds of asylum and trafficking cases.

‘A core principle of the Dublin regulations is that the first country of entry should take responsibility for the claimant, which imports fairness and equity into the system.’