The new Conservative deputy chair, Lee Anderson, claimed that Calais refugee charities are “just as bad as people-smugglers”.
He accused refugee organisations based in northern France of “fuelling” people’s desire to cross the English Channel in small boats. Anderson alleged that on a recent trip to Calais with the Commons home affairs select committee, he saw “hundreds of young men” being helped by those working with the British charity Care4Calais:
“You’ve got the people-smugglers, you’ve got the camps, the charities at the camps. You’ve then got, when you get to England, the hotels, the lefty lawyers – it is one big multimillion-pound industry.”
Anderson, a former Labour councillor who defected to the Tories, also claimed migrants were “encouraged” to make the dangerous crossing by being taught English by the volunteers.
“They weren’t fleeing any war, or persecution, they told us that they wanted to come for a better life in the UK,” he claimed.
In response, volunteer-run Care4Calais said: “Our operations in northern France focus on the provision of humanitarian aid and we seek to provide some friendship and dignity through activities like English lessons, football matches, and simple teas and coffees. We provide no assistance – or encouragement – to refugees with journeys to the UK. We do not want any individual to attempt to cross the Channel in a small boat, or by other dangerous means.
“We see the real-life consequences of people-smuggling; that is why we campaign for safe routes for people who want to seek asylum in the UK.”
The charity distributes aid to refugees sleeping rough in and around Calais, many of whom have fled war, persecution and political oppression.
Meanwhile, in Liverpool, h