London protest as France blocks migrant aid convoy

18th June 2016, Comments 0 comments

Protesters rallied outside the French embassy in London on Saturday after an aid convoy intended for migrants was turned back by French border police.

After gathering near parliament in London, the convoy of around 250 vehicles, including a 38-tonne truck full of aid, set off for the southeast English port of Dover.

The truck was allowed through but most of the accompanying cars were turned back, convoy organiser John Rees said told AFP.

The convoy, staged by a number of left-wing campaign groups including the People's Assembly and the Stop the War Coalition, was prevented from boarding ferries across the Channel to the northeastern French port of Calais.

After returning to London, demonstrators let off flares and waved socialist party placards reading "refugees welcome", "open the borders" and "fight racism and Islamophobia".

Protesters also held up banners reading "stand up to racism" and "students welcome refugees".

Bags of aid were laid on the floor outside the embassy.

Around 4,000 migrants, mainly from Afghanistan and Sudan, live in the Jungle camp in Calais, according to an official estimate from April.

Local authorities in the Calais region took out a public order injunction against the convoy on Wednesday.

French police justified the ban citing security concerns, pointing to the major deployment in place for the 2016 European Football Championships and the demands of counter-terrorism.

"Kent Police has received notification from the French authorities that they have taken a decision to refuse the convoy entry to France," the local police force in Dover said in a statement.

"No agency within the United Kingdom has any grounds to challenge this decision. The refusal of entry to France is a matter for the French authorities," it added.

© 2016 AFP

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