Joint statement from leading British and French NGOs on the situation in Sangatte

11 Sep 2001

Joint statement from British and French NGOs

Leading British and French non-governmental organisations working on behalf of refugees and asylum seekers, issued the following statement today, in advance of tomorrow's meeting between British Home Secretary David Blunkett and his French counterpart, Daniel Vaillant, Minister of the Interior to discuss the Sangatte situation.

We, the undersigned, call on both Ministers to:

  • acknowledge that the Sangatte centre is a symptom, not the cause of the situation

  • recognize that the solution lies in working with other European governments on setting the same, high standards for receiving asylum seekers, processing their cases and defining who is in need of protection

  • respond humanely to asylum seekers wishing to join family members

  • ensure that people in both countries are informed of their right to make an asylum claim, with the benefit of full access to the UNHCR, legal advice and NGOs

  • maintain a calm approach, avoiding inflammatory language that might fuel racism and xenophobia.

Signatory organisations

All signatories below are members of the European Council for Refugees and Exiles (ECRE):

UK: France:
  • Amnesty International

  • UK British Refugee Council

  • ECRE

  • Oxfam UK

  • Refugee Action

  • Refugee Legal Centre

  • Refugee Training and Advisory Service
    (RETAS)

  • Scottish Refugee Council

  • ILPA

  • Amnesty International

  • France Forum Refugees

  • France Terre d'Asile

  • CIMADE

ENDS

The Refugee Council believes the attention being focussed on the Red Cross centre in Sangatte, northern France, misses the point. Find out why here.

For further information please contact:

In the UK:

Jean Candler/Sarah Campion, Press Office, Refugee Council, 020 7820 3057/020 7840 4404, out of hours pager no: 0870 0555500 and ask for pager 865169

Neil Durkin, Press Office, Amnesty International UK, 020 7814 6241

In France:

France Terre d'Asile: Pierre Henri, director, tel +33 1 53 04 39 97; fax +33 1 53 04 02 40 e-mail ftdaparis@aol.com

Forum Rfugis: Olivier Brachet, director or Christelle Bonville, tel +33 4 78 03 74 45; fax +33 4 78 03 28 74 email vplanes@forumrefugies.org

Amnesty International (France): Patrick Delouvin tel +33 1 53 38 65 16; mob +33 6 20 45 86 84