Conservative MP Lee Anderson says aid workers ‘as bad as people smugglers’
Refugee charities that work with migrants in northern France are “just as bad as people smugglers” who ferry people across the English Channel in search of new lives, the new Conservative deputy chairman Lee Anderson has said.
The MP, who was promoted by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, accused the northern France-based organisations of “fuelling” the desire of people to cross the channel in small boats.
One of the charities, Care4Calais, denied Mr Anderson’s allegations.
Mr Anderson, speaking to The Sunday Telegraph, said that on a recent trip to Calais, he saw “hundreds of young men” being helped by workers at the British Care4Calais charity.
He said he believed the migrants were “encouraged” to make the dangerous crossing by being taught English by the volunteers.
He said the charities were “just as bad as people smugglers” because they were “fuelling” the trade in human lives.
“You’ve got the people smugglers, you’ve got the camps, the charities at the camps,” he said.
“They weren’t fleeing any war, or persecution, they told us that they wanted to come for a better life in the UK.”
A Care4Calais spokesman said: “Our operations in Calais and 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, simple teas and coffees.
“We provide no assistance or encouragement to refugees in Calais and Northern France with journeys to the UK.
“We do not want any individual to attempt to cross the Channel in a small boat, or attempt dangerous journeys by other means — lorries, trains, etc — as these journeys are life-threatening.”
The volunteer-run charity distributes aid to refugees sleeping rough in and around Calais, many of whom have fled war, persecution and political oppression, according to its website.