Refugees in Calais & Dunkerque
"To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity." Nelson Mandela
BARAC UK is a national campaign against racism, injustice, austerity and cuts. We don't believe that migrants and refugees fleeing persecution, war, poverty and climate change should be scapegoated. We believe that their human rights matter and that everybody is entitled to safety and security.
Since Summer 2015 we have been taking food, essential items and other aid to refugees in Calais and more recently Dunkerque, who are stuck in limbo in a shanty town in inhumane conditions.
We take aid & solidarity every 4 to 6 weeks. We have been supported / joined by Global Justice Now, Nation of Islam, Black Fathers Support Group, Public & Commercial Services Union, ASLEF the Union, CWU, GMB & the TUC Black Workers Conference.
We are raising funds for basic and traditional & cultural food supplies, toiletries including African hair and skin products, Halal products and items to help cope with the weather depending on the season, for example in the winter months, thermal underwear, hats, scarves, gloves, coats a d all year round warm blankets , emergency blankets, hot water bottles, sleeping bags, plus camping equipment.
Recently adverse weather, regular fires and Government destruction due to ok imposed exclusion zones have destroyed personal items and shelters so we will also respond to any urgent need for particular items with the funds we raise.
A video in the link below documents our first fact -finding / solidarity visit to Calais together with a written report and photos: http://www.blackactivistsrisingagainstcuts.blogspot.co.uk/2015/09/solidarity-visit-to-calais-by-black.html
Our thanks to documentary film maker Ray Rakaba for producing both films.
We are grateful to all who have donated in the past and ask that you please share this page, donate and fundraise if you are able to.
In addition to donating money, if you are able to provide any of the items needed, food, water, tea, coffee, juice, traditional foods, basic foods,tents, sleeping bags, blankets, camping and building equipment, art supplies for the art school, books for the library, sturdy boots and shoes to cope with the weather, warm, water proof jackets and coats and other items mentioned above, we have a drop off point at the PCS Union HQ at Clapham Junction, London, please contact us for further details.
We thank you for your support. Freedom should not be a privilege for the rich but a human right for all of us. Until we all have freedom, none of us are truly free as we are bound by the restrictions imposed on us as human beings.
Thanks to your support we were able to return to France to distribute aid and visit with people who are refugees to bring solidarity in July.
We took cooking ingredients and equipment to the Refugee Community Kitchen and toiletries, clothes, sleeping bags, blankets and tents also.
The week before we went the authorities seized approximately 500 people and told them they have to be processed in France or they will be deported. Most of the people we spoke with were young as always , late teens to early twenties but amongst the young adults we spoke with there were two 14 year old boys. They had travelled from West Africa to France alone and had both lost their parents. We advised them on their rights as children as they are being treated like adults and not being protected as they should be. This of course is a breach of their human rights. One did not even have shoes on his feet, just flip flops.
The space where aid and food used to be distributed has now been blocked off with heavy concrete boulders and fencing preventing people from accessing the piece of land within it where people would gather and sleep in the bushes.
There were a handful of portable toilets in a different location and when we checked the other locations where there used to be such toilets and distributions they had all gone and more huge concrete boulders placed to stop anybody accessing the space. We were told that access to running water has now been severely cut with times and limited access on only odd days , not daily. Along the roadside due to other spaces being blocked there were a few tents and belongings but everyone we spoke to advised that if they do not wake up early enough the authorities come and take away tents, sleeping bags and any other belongings so this effectively requires waking up in the middle of the night to avoid being caught by police and any brutality which may go hand in hand with confiscation of belongings. All the young people we spoke to have family connections in the UK.
Alongside the people from countries such as Sudan and Eritrea we usually see in France there was a growing number from west African countries this time. When I visited the processing centre in the Spanish enclave if Mellila in the region of Morocco last year there was a large number of West African young men there too.
I have included a video with a young man from Sierra Leone we spoke with.
The combined impacts of climate change, poverty and conflict mean that there is a disproportionate impact on those from the Global South when it comes to displacement whilst others are fleeing persecution including because of sexual orientation, political activism etc.
Whilst the UK have declared a climate emergency , they still have a woeful record on supporting those who seek asylum here because of climate poverty. The links between climate change, poverty, migration and racism must be made by those campaigning for climate justice.
Our thanks go to all of you for donating on here and to the TUC Black Workers conference and PCS union National Black Members Committee for doing fundraising events and to Lush for donating toiletries.
We have lots of people offering to go with us to France which is much appreciated but what we really need is donations and fundraising support so please do share this update with your networks.
on behalf of BARAC UK
Following a few months break while we did some fundraising and were also focused on another horrific aspect of the hostile environment, campaigning for justice for the Windrush generation, including co-organising 2 national days of action, we are back on track and ready to take aid to Calais this month. Our thanks go to TUC Race Relations Committee, TUC Black Workers Conference, PCS Union National Black Members Committee and PCS Annual Delegate Conference for fundraising initiatives and of course all of you for your donations on here.
We work in France with L'auberge des Migrants, Help Refugees and the Refugee Community Kitchen and the kitchen which is the key source of thousands of meals each day for our sisters and brothers stuck in limbo in France are urgently in need of volunteers to go to the kitchen in Calais, do food distributions, slice, dice, prepare food etc so if you have a few spare days over the summer they will appreciate your help. They can assist with travel and accommodation if required. http://www.refugeecommunitykitchen.com/
In the meantime it would be fantastic if you could share this update with your networks in order to maximise the donations we take.
Don't forget that donations of new means clothing, bulk supplies of key essentials such as toiletries, sleeping bags and blankets can be sent to us or dropped of addressed to me at PCS Union HQ, 160 Falcon Road, London, SW11 2LN. Donations need to arrive by 18th July.
Thanks for supporting us to bring practical solidarity to our sisters and brothers fleeing the combined impacts of persecution, conflict climate change and poverty over the past few years.
National Chair, BARAC UK
For personal reasons, work commitments and the fact that we had used up nearly all our funds we had to take a break from distributing aid for the past few months of this year.
The good news is that we have raised some funds and are back on track to continue with our regular aid distributions soon.
We are particularly grateful to the TUC Race Relations Committee and Black Workers Conference for organising a fundraising dance in London to support us and to the PCS Union National Black Members Committee for organising a Fundraising Social for us at their National Conference in Brighton.
But we also really appreciate your donations on here and everyone who has purchased the badges I designed featuring my art with all proceeds going to this sid fundraiser.
Everything you can do to support us appreciated and there is also the option of sending or dropping off donations to us at PCS HQ in London.
If you would like info on what to donate, quantities, how to send etc please email us email@example.com. Also if you or your organisation /group would like to sponsor our travel for a distribution let us know.
As demos globally against climate change are happening we must not forget about the consequences for whole communities forced to flee their homes who arrive in Europe only to face inhumane conditions and treatment, denied basic needs such as food, sanitation, shelter and water.
Best Wishes and thanks
on behalf of BARAC UK
Hi Zita, I work at a medium-sized charity and will share with staff. Maybe a few will donate. Do you have any other things you need? For example - old jumpers, scarves, hats, gloves... things like that? I reckon if I could get everyone to bring in 1 item we'd have some really good things for you to take up to Calais in the van. What do you think? Speak soon, Roxie.
This is what we must do to make real inroads to the World's racist, immigration and refugee problems; dissolve all borders, follow the world famous song that inspires all people to day and continuously. Believe that it is true. Gradually dismantle all the world's geographical and ethnic "specialisms". Stop judgements between so-called religious entities. Whom does this really benefit? Global suffrage to 12 y.o to allow the young to discover their true voice, repressed by adults. The youth perspective is essential to work out the plan. Look at the world every day and decide you will love it to death. Make love not war.