On the fourth of December, Newcastle University’s Stand Up To Racism Society hosted their first societal event: a film showing of “Calais Children: A Case To Answer” in the Barbra Strang Building.
The new society aims "to raise awareness of the current European refugee crisis in Europe and emphasise how the UK government aren’t doing anywhere near enough to help these vulnerable children."
Directed by Sue Clayton, the film aims to educate people about the Calais refugee crisis. Lauren Barnes, the secretary of the Stand Up To Racism Society, spoke to The Courier about the film and how we can do our part to help.
Can you please explain what the film was about?
The film follows the lives of some of approximately two thousand lone refugee children living in refugee camps around Calais; most of these children had a legal case to be in the UK. In late 2016 the camps were demolished by the police, and yet, little to no help was offered to the minors living there. The film shows the personal stories of a few refugee children in their day to day struggle to stay alive. A team of human rights lawyers attempted to bring forward a legal case in the UK for these children. However, after suffering a long series of delays and dismissals from the UK government, the children were left in France with no place to go and no hope for the future.
What specifically did you learn about the Calais refugee crisis?
I learnt how the UK government has repeatedly let down vulnerable children, despite being more than capable to take on every lone child refugee in the Calais camps. Under the DUB’s amendment the government had promised to allow 480 unaccompanied refugee children into the UK, however since the legislation was passed in 2016 only around 250 of these places have been filled. The conditions these children are having to endure on the streets of France were described as an "Inhumane Situation" by the UN. Many of the children who were living in the Calais camps have simply disappeared since the camps destruction. French riot police will often raid makeshift shelters at night, with tears gas and batons to disperse occupants.
After viewing this film, I feel more of an emotional tie to the children living in such alarming conditions, it has horrified me to learn how the UK government has done the bare minimum to ensure their safety.
How do you think students can help?
By getting involved! Stand up to Racism has nationally sent many convoys to Calais with aid in order to help the children living there. The next student convoy will be in February 2019. The student Stand up to Racism Society at Newcastle University will also be raising money to send to refugees in the next few months. If anyone would like to help it’s easy to contact the society either via Facebook or email. The society will be hosting many other events in the upcoming months, as well as raising awareness to help refugee children not only in Calais, but across the world.