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British aid-convoy activists barred from entry to Calais

A British aid convoy on its way to the main refugee camp in Calais has been banned from entering France. Authorities have cited security concerns, but activists have taken their protest to London.

A group of activists in a 200-vehicle convoy hoping to bring aid to refugees near Calais were blocked in the English port of Dover on Saturday by French authorities citing security concerns.

Activists then began an impromptu rally at Dover, chanting and holding up signs with slogans such as "solidarity with refugees." They also told local media they would continue their protest in London: "We're going to dump some of the aid on the (French) embassy steps and say, ‘you stopped us from delivering this, you deliver it',” John Rees, one of the organizers, said.

Over the past several months, a coalition of refugee advocacy groups has been collecting aid from around the UK as part of the "Convoy to Calais" project.

France cites security worries

The convoy of more than 200 vehicles left London on Saturday morning with the aim of delivering its aid cargo in Calais by the late afternoon.

But French border police cited security concerns, saying the vehicles would be barred from leaving Dover. France has been under a state of emergency since the Paris terror attacks last November.

The activists had decided to try and accomplish Saturday's mission despite authorities telling them they would be unable to cross the Channel.

The Calais migrant camp is home to around 4,000 people, mainly from Afghanistan and Sudan.

A report released this week by the United Nations Children's Fund reported

horrific living conditions

for minors in the sprawling camp in Calais. It said unaccompanied migrant children were forced into crime and prostitution on a daily basis in order to secure a place in the camps, or the promise of reaching the UK.

nm,es/jm (AFP)

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