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The summer of 2015 has seen a massing of support for refugees in Europe. If even the typically hostile Daily Mail urges us to think of the lives lost in the Mediterranean, inflammatory and completely dehumanising remarks like those of Katie Hopkins, just seem like a distant memory – and the fear towards ‘the other’ that the media had for so long attempted to smear us all with, appears to finally be well and truly changing.

In this context, and the thousands of people who are joining social media campaigns, setting up groups and organisations, raising thousands of pounds in donations, and making trips to Calais, as well as now also contacting existing organisations to ask to find out more and offer help, and helping to bring existing campaigns (like those of City of Sanctuary, Oxfam and Citizens UK) closer together in a wider spirit of solidarity, we could be heading towards a shift from the ‘little islander’ narrative that parties like UKIP have played on, and create a new narrative of international solidarity and a shared destiny for us as 21st century global citizens. However the next months transpire in terms of the media coverage and levels of support, people will still want to seek sanctuary in Europe from military warfare and the more oppressive regimes, so we must not forget the thousands of people who are still yet to make Britain their home, at least for some time, and show people some of the same welcome that has been so inspiring to see transcribed on banners across football stadiums in cities in Germany, and at the railway stations as people arrive – including now in Budapest, as donated shoes are left for the next to arrive there.

Wales has come together to show its support – the Nation of Sanctuary campaign has been launched and Facebook groups to support people in Calais and beyond have attracted thousands of people. Here are some for west and south Wales:

SW Wales

Torfaen, Abergavenny /Monmouth

Welcome to Wales (Croeso i Gymru) road sign South Road signs Signs and Signage

Cardiff became the city it is today because of immigration. The docks in Cardiff were built by the sweat of the brow of Irish migrant labour in the nineteenth century. They brought people from around the world to settle here and build a life for themselves. We need a 21st century culture of hospitality and welcome across Wales, especially for refugees who are seeking sanctuary from war and persecution.

At midday today, Wales will hold at least three demonstrations to support refugees and migrants, and highlight the need for greater support for Syrians and other asylum seekers already in the UK. The Cardiff demonstration is called ‘Wales says #RefugeesWelcome’ – marking the hashtag that trended as opinions about this summer’s refugee crisis changed. It will assemble at the statue of Aneurin Bevan, as we remember that the NHS wouldn’t be the same without the hard work and dedication of migrant labour in Britain. It will end with a march to the Home Office on Newport Road.

This protest has been initiated by campaigners from Cardiff People’s Assembly, Cardiff Stop the War Coalition. HOPE not hate South Wales, No Borders South Wales, Rumney Forum, UNITE Cardiff Community Branch and others. It is supported by Welsh Refugee Council and Trinity Centre Cardiff. It is part of a European day of action. The activists of Europe can work together, even as the governments of the nation states argue over who is to blame and what principles of the EU might remain after this summer. It is in fact working class solidarity that is needed more than ever, and is a part of the migrant struggle. If the working class is divided, the elite find it easier to exploit us – it is only through solidarity that we can build on what we have in common, then focusing together on the need to challenge those elite powers, that, at the moment, can decide all our lives and our futures – and work together to not be dominated by them. The refugees’ struggle is our struggle, and we’ve got a world to win.

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Racist vans, harassment of migrants via text messages from private companies, cuts to legal aid, cuts to English language learning provision, cuts in support services – and phone-lines that people now struggle to use…and more to come from the new Immigration Bill – some might just conclude that the government’s policies are an attack on the vulnerable, but then again, when hasn’t this been the case?

Home Secretary, Theresa May has openly stated a desire to create a “hostile environment” for all but “the brightest and best” migrants.

But whatever governments try to do, people will be there, working together in unity and solidarity to try and change the far-right policies that don’t help anyone, even the richest or bigoted.

Action has been taking place around Europe to build resistance and empower people to stand up for their rights.

freedombanner

The ‘March for Freedom‘ walked for 450km between Strasburg and Brussels, and defied laws by crossing borders that is now a normal occurrence for Europe’s citizens, but denied to vistors seeking sanctuary from wars and conflict.

Activists in Calais have stood up to openly fascist groups and seen support grow as far-right demos were cancelled. Many have now reclaimed a major space in the city to use for solidarity work.

cms

Here in south Wales, activists have recently become involved in the necessary work to support destitute asylum seekers. The government cuts are forcing more people to sleep rough. Cardiff Destitution Network is helping to make the grass-route changes that challenge this bogus system, it was set up by solidarity activists in CMS Wales, which has been active since 2012 after being inspired by the Unity Centre in Glasgow. Some activists have spent less time coming to meetings and more time helping to promote events and organise local benefit gigs which help to fund the vital work that keeps people safe and alive.

Some have worked with various organisations to help make Cardiff a ‘City of Sanctuary’ – hoping that their input helps to make a real difference on the ground so that those that need to the most can directly benefit from the ‘award’.

Many others have been involved in anti-deportation campaigning, alongside friends in south Wales and a now released Dignity marcher to South Wales from Bristol.

We want to build on this though.

We have plans to hold a day of action during the NATO summit in South Wales, and also to help organise a new No Borders Convergence, bringing together migration activists from all over the UK and beyond. Our friends in Bristol and Leeds are growing the No Borders struggles there, and other groups in Manchester, Brighton, Oxford and Nottingham are building a new Migrant Solidarity Network, which Cardiff is also linked to.

This work is to create a world where no one is oppressed or discriminated against because of their status, ethnicity, gender or sexuality.

We want a No Borders group again, that will use protests and many forms of direct action to get results. When detention centres have been blockaded and flights have been cancelled, people’s lives have been saved. We’re meeting tonight to help make this happen. We hope that you can join us at Cathays Community Centre from 6pm to be a part of it. We will aim to meet regularly after that.

You can contact us for more information but we’d like to see you stand together with us if possible.

For a world without borders, in which all are equal and live without conflict.

On Thursday we’ll be showing the premiere of a documentary film about the situation for migrants in Calais made by one of our group: Passengers is the personal account of a few people stuck in a place they don’t want to be, a collection of interviews with people seeking sanctuary. It’s No Borders South Wales meets Calais Migrant Solidarity. It’s on from 7.30pm in room 0.53 of the Bute Building, Cardiff University (map). It’s free entry and we’ll also be showing some other films about the situation in Calais and have a report back from some of the group who have just returned.

Here’s some stills from the film:

The appearance of Louise Perrett in front of the Home Affairs Select Committee on Tuesday has led to Read the rest of this entry »

Now on the revised date of Thursday 4th March from 7.30pm we will be hosting a film showing at the Birt Acres Lecture Theatre, Bute Building, Cardiff University (map). Featuring 3 short films about Calais that give a glimpse into the lives of migrants living there. One of these will be will be the premier of ‘Passengers‘ made by one of our group. You can RSVP on the facebook event page.

Since the No Borders Camp last summer, many activists from south Wales have been involved in migrant solidarity work in Calais. Hundreds of migrants have travelled overland to Calais to cross the final border to Dover in order to settle in Britain. Even though in Britain the odds are not in favour of asylum seeking migrants being given status, it is much less likely in Read the rest of this entry »

New Year’s Eve is bound to be different everywhere, as a party, or a special occasion. But how would you be able to celebrate if you were homeless and vulnerable on the streets of Calais?

In addition to  Salam’s incredible food distribution, they ended  the New Year’s Eve distribution with a party. Music was played over loud speakers mounted on top of a van with Sudanese and No Borders activists dancing to Afghani music, under instruction from Pashto mentors; everyone dancing to Read the rest of this entry »

A group of No Borders activists from South Wales recently returned to Northern France to take part in Calais Migrant Solidarity.

A serene scene, sitting at night a migrant’s encampment, sipping tea and watching the dark sea from the sand dunes.  Behind the gulls are wheeling against the orange sky. This peaceful snapshot hides the daily struggle, stranded up against the tall fences of the UK Border.  It’s very cold. It’s very exposed.  There’s no water and it’s a long walk from anywhere.

Through-out the winter, activists have continued working with and supporting migrants in Calais.  The local humanitarian organisations do astonishing work, providing regular food and support, three times a day, every day. Calais Migrant Solidarity directly supports this work and helps provide access to warm, dry clothes, and helps deal with minor injuries and access to health care.  In addition we’ve also been maintaining a permanent safe, practical space to support people and Read the rest of this entry »

On 21st November from 1pm No Borders South Wales will be hosting a jumble sale at Trinity methodist church (map). The money we raise will be going towards ongoing projects in Calais, where the situation for migrants is getting increasingly more difficult.

There will be clothes, books, CD’s, bric-a-brac, cakes and other goodies up for grabs. We encourage all those who want to come and grab a bargain or two to put it in your diary and join us there!

We welcome any donations of Read the rest of this entry »

small Eritean squat

small Eritean squat

A carload of activists from No Borders South Wales are in Calais with the group Calais Migrant Solidarity.

The weather was awful at the beginning of the week, cold with heavy sudden rain showers; dangerous weather for people forced to live on the streets. We set out on Tuesday morning to deliver warm clean clothes to the ‘bridges’ area – a collection of railway and road bridges across the ‘Basin de la Battellinne’ – where many Afghans and Iranians are struggling to stay dry and warm.

Despite the incessant rain we received a friendly welcome, sharing cigarettes and watching the rain. Meanwhile, during that morning the CRS (Companie Republican de Securité) had invaded the Ethiopian squat and arrested Read the rest of this entry »

Urgently needed: Blankets, Sleeping bags , warm clothes (especially winter jackets and water proofs), mens shoes, tents, money, tarpaulin, rope, tools

calais police migrantsHundreds of refugees and migrants, many of whom are under 18 are sleeping out in the cold weather in Calais; with no shelter, no blankets, nothing. This is the result of the French Immigration minister Besson’s policy of destroying the migrants camps together with the peoples few possessions. New shelters are being destroyed as well as squats being evicted. People sleeping under bridges have had their blankets confiscated or sprayed with chemicals so they cannot be used any more.

The associations and charities cannot cope with Read the rest of this entry »

UK BA Picket 23/09/0912 activists picketed the Cardiff offices of the UK Border Agency for an hour between 4-5pm today, catching a lot of post-work traffic along a busy Newport Road.

The picket was held in response to a call out for protests outside UKBA offices in solidarity with activists and migrants in Calais, where French authorities have been attempting to make the port town a “migrant free zone”  by subjecting migrants there to intimidation and violence and by destroying their living spaces and belongings.

Solidarity actions were also Read the rest of this entry »

On Saturday 5th September at 2pm-5pm we will be hosting a Jumble Sale fund-raiser at the The Wyndham Street Centre in Riverside (map)‎.

There will be clothes, books, CD’s, bric-a-brac, cakes and other goodies up for grabs. We might even get some live music for the afternoon!

We encourage all those who want to come and grab a bargain or two to put it in your diary and join us there!

We welcome any donations of Read the rest of this entry »

This is the personal recollection of one of our group (a street medic) at the Calais No Border Camp.

FranceCalais090423_432The port town of Calais in Northern France represents the final point of the journey in a migrants struggle to gain entry into the United Kingdom. Much has already been documented about the plight of those stuck in this hellish purgatory, of the violence, the poverty and the invisable situation punctuated only by media scare stories of ‘waves, hordes’ of scrougers and bogus asylum seekers.

However my story is about the less exposed side of the struggle, of the health and well being of these desperate people. I spent my time at the No Borders camp at the port and the jungle, visiting and bringing minimal releif in the form of First Aid.

My first encounter of the migrant health care system was a hurried car journey to the Eritrean squat in the Ferry Port. A team of medics gathered together having heard a scare that the squat was being raided, but after three or four stop and searches by the CRS we decided that we would be more useful Read the rest of this entry »

This is the personal recollection of the Calais No Border Camp by one member of our group, others will follow soon.

Copyright Guido 2008. NO UNAUTHORISED USE.I am surrounded by faces, all beaming at me, eyes glittering with interest, with expectation. The floor is beautifully carpeted and a Turkish man has motioned me towards a space towards the back of the structure opposite the door, carefully dragging a cushion from the wall in a manner imbued with all the gentle goodness and grace that the Muslim character engenders.

The shelter is poorly lit and stuffy inside, but though bare, it is clean. Blue tarpaulin sheets are stretched taught over a robust wooden frame, wooden pallets provide the base for a perfectly flat floor and the roof rise’s each side to an apex.

“The Wind?” I ask, “No problem.” “The rain?” I get the same reply.

Two miles away and two hours previously it was still stiflingly hot when I had turned the corner of the Boulevard des Allies to see, set against the maritime train station in Calais a sight starkly reminiscent Read the rest of this entry »

433472We’ve been very quiet on the blogging front since the end of the No Border Camp in Calais. The events on the ground in the region have got more intense, with French Authorities attempting to remove all migrant camps, however activists have been staying in the area doing Calais Migrant Solidarity. Some of us intend to return to Calais in the near future, if anyone is able to travel to Northern France to give support, get in touch.

Back here in Wales, the UK Border Agency have been very busy trying to (and often succeeding) ruin people’s lives. As usual the defence of their intrusive activities would be funny if it were not so tragic. The forcing apart of a married couple, was, in the words of their spokesperson “to protect young people” and to made sure they “receive the help and support they need”. At present the couple are legally entitled to live together anywhere in the EU, except the UK.

UK Border Agency staff routinely and systematically brand people liars when Read the rest of this entry »

marchThis year’s No Border Camp in Calais has now finished. It was a powerful and unique event. Bringing together activists from across Europe to share a camp alongside undocumented migrants from Africa, the Middle East and Asia as well as significant numbers of local residents was no easy feat. Especially under the watchful eye of over 2,000 police, nearly all armed and with full riot gear (though often no uniforms and no noticeable identification). Full credit to everyone who took part in any way.

Camp signThough the Freedom of Movement demonstration on Saturday 27th was the central event that got media coverage, it was the week long camp that was the real story. As part of the war of words about the camp we have been using our Twitter feed to keep a constant stream of updates on what was taking place, as well as Read the rest of this entry »

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