Natalie Bennett and Oona Chaplin call for UK to give refugees safe passage at memorial for 15-year-old Afghan boy

The boy was one of more than a dozen refugees to die attempting to cross the Channel in the past year

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The Independent Online

Green Party leader Natalie Bennett joined actors including Oona Chaplin, volunteers and faith leaders at a memorial service for a 15-year-old refugee who died trying to reach the UK.

The Afghan boy, known as Masud, was found dead in the back of a lorry earlier this month after leaving the “Jungle” camp in Calais in a desperate attempt to reach relatives in Britain.

He was just one of more than a dozen refugees who have died trying to cross the English Channel in the past year, being drowned, run over, crushed or electrocuted in the Channel Tunnel.

They were remembered with a service at St Andrew's Church in Holborn, London, on Monday.

Campaigners at a memorial service organised by Citizens UK for refugees who have died trying to reach the UK, at St Andrew's Church in the City of London.

Campaigners, politicians and celebrities listened to Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders and laid white flowers as a tribute to the dead.

Chaplin, who is known for her role in Game of Thrones and is the granddaughter of Charlie Chaplin, attended alongside actor Adetomiwa Edun.

"I would urge David Cameron to consider what kind of society he is prepared to defend,” she said, calling on the Prime Minister to visit camps in Calais to understand why people were risking their lives reach Britain.

"The values we are killing people for overseas, human rights, decent, dignity these are the very things at risk now, on our shores.

"This isn't just going to go away. We cannot wash our hands of this issue. This isn't a refugee crisis, this is a humanitarian crisis.”

Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party, at a memorial service organised by Citizens UK for refugees who have died trying to reach the UK, at St Andrew's Church in the City of London.

Ms Bennett wrote on Twitter that reflecting on the plight of refugees "reflects on our common humanity", with the #refugeeswelcome hashtag.

The Bishop of Barking, the Right Reverend Peter Hill, said that helping the youngest and most vulnerable refugees reach their loved ones safely does not amount to an “open door immigration policy”.

“Today we remember Masud, a child who died a terrible death trying to reach his sister here in Britain after waiting for months in Calais,” he added. 

“We cannot stand by and watch as more children are driven to the same desperate attempts to cross the Channel.”

The event was organised by Citizens UK, which is supporting a court case testing whether four child refugees currently stranded in the “Jungle” will be allowed to safely join their families in the UK.

Campaigners cite the Dublin Regulations, which allow children and teenagers who have relatives in an EU country can claim asylum there even if they have entered Europe via another safe country. 

George Gabriel, from Citizens UK, said: “There are hundreds of people with genuine and valid claims to protection in Britain, including many children and young people who desperately need to be reunited with their loved ones.  

“We hope that the outcome of this hearing will be positive, and allow for other children and young people to gain safe entry to the UK. 

“That’s the only way to bring order to chaos, stop people risking their lives and put the traffickers out of business.”