MP returns from four-day visit to Calais refugee camp

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MP for Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East, Stuart McDonald, has returned from a four-day visit to see first-hand the dire circumstances in the French refugee camps at Calais and Grande Synthe.

He travelled with three other SNP MPs and a group of academics, health workers and activists, and met with those living in the camp, volunteers and organisations such as Medicin Sans Frontier and Help Refugees UK.

Mr McDonald and his colleagues insist both the French and UK governments have moral and legal responsibilities to help many more of the people stuck in the camps.

Commenting on the visit, Mr McDonald said: “It is appalling to see these camps, essentially shanty towns, right on the border of two of Europe’s wealthiest countries.

“We met some amazing volunteers, mostly from the UK, as well as charities doing their best to make life in the camps bearable. But there is only so much they can do.

“The UK government must do more to assist those refugees with strong ties to the UK to come here, while France must provide a humane alternative for those who do not – instead of police violence and makeshift camps.

“For example we met a Kurdish man who had acted as an interpreter for UK forces in Iraq, but is now stranded in the camps. Many others have friends and family here, including the many children who are also stranded.

“My colleagues and I are more determined than ever to push the French and UK governments to live up to their moral and legal obligations”.