British celebrities highlight refugee plight in Calais 'Jungle'

AFP , Sunday 21 Feb 2016

Jungle migrants and refugee camp
A migrant flies a kite on February 19, 2016 in the "jungle" migrants and refugee camp in Calais, northern France. (Photo: AFP)

British celebrities including Jude Law and playwright Tom Stoppard were due to appear at the "Jungle" migrant camp in northern France on Sunday to draw attention to the plight of refugees facing imminent eviction.

The event was organised by Letters Live, which gets actors and comedians to read letters from famous historical figures, and Sunday's event was set to include new writing by refugees living in the camp on the outskirts of Calais.

Also due to take part were singer Tom Odell, comedians Matt Berry and Shappi Khorsandi and actor Toby Jones, with their readings translated into Arabic, Farsi, Pashto and Kurdish.

Law helped organise a petition to Prime Minister David Cameron this week, urging him to press France for a delay to the demolition of the southern part of the camp, which is due to begin on Monday.

Over 96,000 people, including over 150 public figures, have signed the letter, which calls for children in the Jungle with relatives in Britain to be reunited with their families while their asylum cases are heard.

"These are innocent, vulnerable children caught up in red tape with the frightening prospect of the demolition of the Jungle hanging over them," Law said earlier this week.

"David Cameron and the British government must urgently work with the French authorities to alleviate this humanitarian crisis."

Figures from charity Help Refugees show that there are 440 children living in the southern section of the camp, 291 of whom are unaccompanied.

The demolition by French authorities is part of efforts to discourage migrants from trying to smuggle themselves to Britain via the ferries or the tunnel under the Channel.

"Such an enforced move would uproot again those who have already had to abandon their homes due to war and persecution," read the celebrities' letter.

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