Calais. I was also really disgusted to hear our Home Secretary Alan
Johnson expressing his ‘delight’ in the actions of the French police,
believing that this will "disrupt illegal immigration and
people-trafficking routes." According to the French minister of the
Interior, Eric Besson, the demolition of the temporary homes was done
on ‘humanitarian grounds’ but now the refugees are either homeless or
in prisons. The Daily Telegraph reported that ‘in hearings across
France, judges ruled that the migrants' human rights had been breached
by "irregularities in the conditions of their transport and detention".
Whether they are imprisoned by a trafficker or by the Government; it
seems that there is little distinction where human rights are
This brutal destruction of the temporary camps goes against all the
advice given by the UN and other aid agencies. Johnson’s ‘delight’
eerily echoes Blunkett sense of a "major achievement" back in 2002 when
Sangatte closed, believing that it would "effectively push our border
controls across the Channel to the French coast". However, since the
closure of Sangatte, the crisis in Calais has predictably worsened as
people do not just disappear. Both of these ruthless actions fail to
address the key issue of Britain’s responsibility to refugees and our
obligations under the UNHCR. Whilst military invasions and climate
change continue to make people’s homelands impossible to live in,
refugees will always exist.
The majority of British people would be completely shocked to know the
reality of life as a refugee. However instead politicians continually
play into the hands of the far right BNP. The UK, as the fourth largest
economy in the world, must do its fair share to look after these
The glaring fact from the Calais crisis is that the refugees are
predominantly from war-torn Iraq and Afghanistan.
Immigration Minister Phil Woolas stated that 'genuine' refugees should
claim asylum as soon as they enter Europe but this ignores the fact
that the two main countries of arrival, Greece and Italy, do not adhere
to the UNHCR guidelines on hosting refugees. In Greece, fewer than 1%
of asylum claims were accepted last year, while in Italy thousands were
intercepted and turned away without even having their claims looked at.
The Dublin II regulation therefore is a policy of systematic human
rights abuse against migrants and refugees and needs to be suspended
This current arrangement allows Britain to conveniently avoid its
responsibility to protect refugees by leaving it up to Greece. However,
the prison camps in Greece have also been critical for some time and
are severely overcrowded. Human rights monitors have recently reported
that about 1000 people are constantly locked up in a place normally
designed for only 280 people. Sanitary and medical conditions are
The UK government must ensure that the human rights of refugees are
fully protected. The current situation in Calais and the forced
deportations back to their countries of origin are unacceptable. This
must be raised as a national issue that deserves serious parliamentary
debate rather than happening quietly, to people who cannot defend
themselves or make their voices heard. The evictions and deportations
must cease immediately and a just solution found.
I understand that a number of refugees are due to start a hunger strike
tomorrow and will have no proper access to medical care.
I do hope you will raise this matter with Alan Johnson at the earliest
opportunity and stop the current action in Calais.