Jude Law highlights plight of refugees

Actor Jude Law (above) helped organise a petition asking British Prime Minister David Cameron to press France to delay the demolition of the migrant camp in northern France.
Actor Jude Law (above) helped organise a petition asking British Prime Minister David Cameron to press France to delay the demolition of the migrant camp in northern France.PHOTO: REUTERS

CALAIS, FRANCE • British celebrities including actor Jude Law and playwright Tom Stoppard gave performances at the Jungle migrant camp in northern France on Sunday to draw attention to the plight of refugees facing imminent eviction.

Law, the star of Spy (2015) and The Talented Mr Ripley (1999), was spotted weaving his way through the mud and makeshift shacks to the Good Chance theatre, which was set up by British volunteers last year.

About 200 residents of the camp showed up to watch the performance by Law and a group of British actors, comedians and singers, including Tom Odell and Toby Jones.

The event was organised by Letters Live, which gets celebrities to read letters from famous historical figures, and Sunday's event included new writing by refugees living in the squalid camp on the outskirts of Calais.

Law helped organise a petition to British Prime Minister David Cameron this week, urging him to press France for a delay to the demolition of the southern part of the camp, which could start as early as today.

More than 96,000 people, including more than 150 public figures, have signed the letter, which calls for children in the Jungle with relatives in Britain to be reunited with their families while their asylum cases are heard.

Actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Idris Elba were among the names on the petition.

"These are innocent, vulnerable children caught up in red tape with the frightening prospect of the demolition of the Jungle hanging over them," Law said last week.

"David Cameron and the British government must urgently work with the French authorities to alleviate this humanitarian crisis."

The decision to bulldoze part of the camp is being challenged in court, with a ruling due today.

Figures from the charity Help Refugees show there are 440 children living in the southern section of the camp, 291 of whom are unaccompanied.

The demolition is part of an effort to discourage migrants from trying to smuggle themselves to Britain via the ferries or the tunnel under the Channel.

The presence of thousands of migrants in the camp, who are desperately trying to reach Britain, has become a political hot potato both within France and between Paris and London.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 23, 2016, with the headline 'Jude Law highlights plight of refugees'. Print Edition | Subscribe