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Calais Jungle refugees sew mouths shut in protest at camp clearance

Four British volunteers, including one named Tom Radcliffe, joined the hunger strike

Oscar Quine
Friday 04 March 2016 21:57 GMT
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A placard reading " Why don't you listen to us" is seen behind a Iranian migrant, his lips sewn shut and making an hunger strike, during the dismantlement of the shanty town called the "Jungle" in Calais, France.
A placard reading " Why don't you listen to us" is seen behind a Iranian migrant, his lips sewn shut and making an hunger strike, during the dismantlement of the shanty town called the "Jungle" in Calais, France. (Reuters)

Eight men who have been on hunger strike in the Calais refugee camp since 29 February have sewn their mouths shut in protest at the continued clearance of the Jungle.

Four British volunteers, including one named Tom Radcliffe, joined the hunger strike.

The group are demanding that the clearance of the camp be put on hold until an appeal is heard by the European Court of Human Rights.

The protest comes amid heightened concern for the welfare of refugees, with a survey finding that 73 per cent say they have been victim to police violence.

A medic based in Calais told The Independent they had stitched up the head of a seven-year-old boy who had been beaten by police.

The demolition of the southern part of the camp began on 29 February, leading to clashes between French riot police and the camp’s inhabitants.

Local authorities had previously promised a slow and humane approach to the camp’s clearance.

Clare Moseley, founder of Care4Calais, expressed dismay at the lack of support for refugees in the camp.

“These are men, women and children who have done nothing wrong,” she said. “They have fled horrendous situations that we see in the news and are shocked by, travelling thousands of miles and often turning up in Calais with the clothes on their backs.

“They hold the dream of safety, of compassion and a new life. They are people in desperate need who deserve to be protected.”

The survey into violence against the refugees, conducted by the Refugee Rights Data Project, found that 82 per cent of the 800-plus refugees questioned said they intended to stay in Calais or move to a nearby camp in Dunkirk.

Reports of police violence against refugees attempting to board trucks and trains bound for the UK have been commonplace. Videos of some of these incidents have been published online.

The medical volunteer who spoke to The Independent about the seven-year-old child asked to remain anonymous.

“We had to give him stitches in his head at four in the morning,” they said.

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