Jude Law is speaking out for child refugees.
The actor walked through the muddy grounds outside Calais, France, on Sunday to highlight the plight of hundreds of refugee children living in makeshift camps known as “The Jungle.”
Accompanied by Hunger Games star Toby Jones and Tony Award-winning playwright Tom Stoppard, Law, 43, took to the stage of the camps’ makeshift Good Luck theater to denounce the site’s conditions, where an estimated 4,000 refugees from Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Africa – all hoping to cross into Britain – live in imminent threat of eviction.
French authorities have plans to dismantle large portions of the sprawling shantytown’s southern precincts beginning Tuesday.
Speaking to a crowded audience of several hundred, Law and British singer-songwriter Tom Odell read letters written by migrants. Indicating the wide diversity among the camp’s population, Law’s remarks and the letters were simultaneously translated into Arabic, Farsi, Kurdish and Pashto languages. As he read, the actor repeated demands that Britain accept the undocumented children immediately.
Along with Law, a slew of British celebrities, including Benedict Cumberbatch, Helena Bonham Carter, Idris Elba and Colin Firth, have joined petitioners in signing a letter calling on the prime minister to act in the face of what they describe as a “humanitarian crisis.” According to reports, nearly 96,000 people in Britain have joined the public petition.
“I wanted to see for myself, draw my own opinion,” Law told APTN News while touring the camp. “It just seemed to me the pressing issue was the kids, who are unaccompanied, and living in awful conditions, it seemed that their plight needed to be highlighted.”
Charity organizations estimate The Jungle’s population is between 4,000-6,000 refugees, with as many as 300 male and female children, under the age of 18, living unaccompanied in the compound – the youngest child being a 10-year-old Syrian boy.
Unless an 11th-hour court action prevents it, French authorities will begin to evict and/or transfer up to 1,000 migrants from The Jungle’s southern camp starting Tuesday.
“They’re planning to demolish another two-thirds of the camp, including key communal centers: a youth center, a women and children center, a theater, a mosque, a church,” Law protested, reports Sky News.
“This is a community they built and offers a minor thread to the children here unaccompanied,” he continued. “Without those, who knows what’s going to happen to them.”
Situated in a fringe region outside Calais, “The Jungle” is an endpoint destination for refugees hoping to reach Britain through the Channel Tunnel or by ferry. It has thrived on its own since French officials closed down the overcrowded Sangatte facility (which was opened in 1998 to handle African refugees) more than a decade ago. The resident population has built facilities from donations, scrapwood and plastic sheeting, and, with assistance from charities, installed start-up restaurants alongside other facilities.
Authorities plan to evacuate some portion of the crowded southern camp’s population into an adjacent field lined with rehabilitated shipping containers alongside The Jungle. The new secured area provides shelter for 1,500 with heat and electricity, but critics of the regional government’s actions say that the substitute housing, which lacks bath and toilet facilities, already holds 1,200.