It’s time to create legal and safe routes into the UK and avoid the risk of vulnerable people being exploited by unscrupulous gangs and people traffickers.
That’s the view of a group of Hastings based charities following the news that 17 people, thought by police to be ‘illegal immigrants’ arrived on the beaches of Hastings and Winchelsea yesterday.
Hastings Community of Sanctuary, The Hastings and Rother Refugee Buddy Project and Hastings Supports Refugees say they were relieved to hear that those people who arrived did so safely and with no severe injuries.
Detective Inspector Jon Gillings, of Hastings police, said last night: “Two of those detained required medical treatment and we are concerned that one or two others still outstanding may also be in need of assistance.”
Police were concerned that an unknown number of people left the beaches before the arrival of the Police.
In a statement issued by the charities this morning they say: “We support the request by the Police that anyone who encounters someone appearing cold, wet, hungry, disorientated, or in need of medical aid, should immediately contact the Police by phoning 999. The safest way for these vulnerable new arrivals to make their asylum claim is with Police support.
“As a Community of Sanctuary – a welcoming place for all who are seeking refuge and safety – we hope anyone arriving in our town, whether by boat, bus or train, will be met with the warmth and compassion we see in our work on a daily basis.”
The charities that Police in Calais have become increasingly hostile over the last ten days: “On September 25th there were reports that the French Police had destroyed a camp in Dunkirk, leaving around 300 people, including young children, without shelter or provisions. Despite promising to take them to accommodation centres in the city, many were left on the roadside in a storm.
“Similar stories of daily confiscation of tents and clothing are coming out of Calais on a weekly basis. The volunteer organisations who work in these places simply cannot keep up with the level of need.”
In the circumstances the local charities say it is not surprising that people seeking refuge are desperate to make the journey to Britain.
“Based on their experiences of Police hostility in France it is no surprise that some may have left the beach before the UK Police arrived, most likely in an attempt to find their own way to London to formally seek asylum.
“These already vulnerable people, potentially including children, are now at high risk of being exploited by unscrupulous gangs and people traffickers,” says this morning’s statement.
The local groups say the solution is to create legal and safe routes into the UK: “The UK Government must act to stop the situation where hundreds of people are sleeping rough in Northern France, subject to hostility and violence by local Police and so desperate to be safe that they would cross the busiest shipping lane in the world on nothing more than rubber dinghies.
“We have to do better than this.” they conclude
Care4Calais provide food and provisions to the camps in Calais and Dunkirk. You can donate via their website https://www.goldengiving.com/wall/care4calais