SIPTU members at the union’s Health Division Biennial Conference in Liberty Hall, Dublin 1, have today (Thursday, 13th October) voted in favour of a motion calling on the Government to demand a delay in the demolition of the refugee camp, known as ‘The Jungle’, in Calais, northern France, which is planned for later this month.
The camp houses thousands of refugees and migrants, including approximately 1,000 unaccompanied children. It is feared that the demolition of the camp will result in these children becoming more vulnerable to exploitation or trafficking.
Proposing the motion, SIPTU Global Solidarity Committee member, Brian Condra, said: “Ireland can and must take action. We are calling on the Taoiseach and Minister for Foreign Affairs to make an immediate appeal to the French Government to delay the demolition of this camp. We are also calling on Ireland to take 200 of the unaccompanied children from Calais, who, though resilient, face added vulnerability and potential exploitation.”
Speaking at the Conference, Federica Pipolo, a volunteer working in the Calais refugee camp with vulnerable families and unaccompanied minors, said: “Everyone in the Jungle is in danger. They have crossed seas, many countries, slept on the cold ground, having left their loved ones behind, with no certainty of seeing them again. All this to arrive in a place which doesn’t want them and where their human rights are violated daily.”
SIPTU Global Solidarity Committee secretary, Yvonne O’Callaghan, said: “We believe the Irish Government should make an immediate appeal to its French counterparts to delay the demolition of the Calais refugee camp. It should also make clear that the demolition should not proceed without assurances about the welfare of its residents and, most particularly, the safety of the unaccompanied children.”