This photo from England shows a Valentine’s Day ‘Love Not Razor Wire’ protest outside the French embassy in London against the treatment of refugees in Calais.
From daily News Line in Britain:
Monday, 22 February 2016
THOUSANDS OF CALAIS REFUGEES TO BE EVICTED BY POLICE AND TROOPS
THOUSANDS of refugees living in the southern part of the camp in the French port of Calais known as the Jungle have been ordered to leave or face eviction.
They have until 20:00 local time (19:00 GMT) on Tuesday to leave the southern part of the sprawling camp. Anyone remaining will be forcibly removed to allow for the makeshift structures there to be razed. The area has become a cultural hub for many of the migrants. It has shops, a school and religious structures.
The authorities said up to 1,000 people could be affected but volunteers on the ground estimated that at least twice that number lived in the area. Aid associations believe around 2,000 migrants live in the southern part of the camp.
Thousands of migrants from the Middle East and Africa have congregated around Calais in the hope of crossing to the UK. On Friday Help Refugees’ Calais manager Philli Boyle said the amazing work done by the Women and Children’s Centre in the camp – one of several crucial services – will be lost when the eviction and bulldozing goes ahead.
Over 400 women and more than 500 children use the centres and facilities Help Refugees supports. ‘These are set to be bulldozed without replacement,’ Boyle said. Help Refugees has called on individuals to ‘join a whole host of people who are calling on the (UK) Prime Minister to ask his French counterpart to delay the demolition’.
Last Thursday, over 100 of Britain’s leading actors and authors and academics, including Jude Law, Helena Bonham Carter, Benedict Cumberbatch and Idris Elba, signed an open letter to Cameron urging him to allow children stuck in the camp to enter the UK.
The letter called on the UK prime minister ‘to persuade the French authorities that the decision to destroy further parts of the camp in Calais is postponed until all the minors currently residing there are either given full child protection within the French system or enabled to re-unite with their loved ones in Britain’.
It stressed: ‘This is a humanitarian crisis that needs to be acknowledged as such, and it is imperative that we do everything we can to help these innocent and highly vulnerable refugees, especially the minors, as swiftly as is humanly possible.’
Citizens UK has identified hundreds of unaccompanied minors in Calais who have valid legal claims to have their asylum applications processed in the UK. The first of these cases was heard in the UK courts last month, with the court ruling the children should legally be reunited with family in the UK while their asylum cases were processed.
One of the signatories, Jude Law, said: ‘Last week I visited the camp, and met some of these unaccompanied children who have no choice but to endure the horrific conditions of the Jungle. These are innocent, vulnerable children caught up in red tape with the frightening prospect of the demolition of the Jungle hanging over them. David Cameron and the British Government must urgently work with the French authorities to alleviate this humanitarian crisis.’
Referring to children in the camp, Simon Cuff from the charity Citizens UK said: ‘Those with rights to be with their families in Britain should be reunited with them, those without the right to the UK should receive specialist support and care from the French. Not chased off by police in riot gear.
‘We’re hugely grateful to all the public figures who’ve stood up and stepped out to help protect these refugee children. Governments need to get in there, bring order to the chaos and create safe legal routes to protect people.’
Eight groups working in the camp, including Doctors of the World, have warned that the alternative accommodation is not suitable. In a protest letter to the French interior minister, the group wrote that they are ‘very far from answering the needs of the problems encountered’.
Caritas relief organisation volunteer Pascal Froehly said: ‘I find it extremely annoying and unfair to move these people away from what they have created, including churches, shops and restaurants.’ He added that ‘it’s just a bed for them’ stressing that the plans to move migrants to heated containers elsewhere in the camp offered them no chance to socialise.
The plan was announced last Friday 12th February. The Pas-de-Calais prefect Fabienne Buccio said that they plan to evacuate around half of the migrant camp on the outskirts of the northern port town. Buccio said: ‘The time has come to move on, no one must live in the southern part of the camp, everyone must leave this section. We’ll give them a week to get their belongings together and take up a place that has been put at their disposal.’
Meanwhile, Citizens UK is calling for help to find 5,000 homes for Syrian refugees.
It says: ‘Calling all landlords! Join our homes for resettled refugees register today. A million Syrian children are languishing in refugee camps. Kids are drowning trying to reach safety.
‘The UK has so far resettled only around 200 Syrian refugees from the camps. We want to see 10,000 refugees resettled here each year for at least the next two years. That’s likely to mean around 5,000 refugee families over the two year period.
‘Citizens UK has been campaigning for a year to get local authorities to pledge to resettle just 50 refugees each. Many councils are willing, but they need our help to find appropriate homes for families in the private rented sector. We desperately need landlords to join our Homes for Resettled Refugees Register.
Please sign up on the Homes for Resettled Refugees Register if you: l own a family-sized rental property in the UK; l would be prepared to offer it as a home for a Syrian refugee family if it is vacant when there is demand in your area;
• can offer a 3-year tenancy to enable the family to have some stability when they arrive;
• are able rent out the property for the Local Housing Allowance Rate in your area. The first 12 months of the rent will be paid for by the European Union under a scheme for placing vulnerable refugees.
‘If you match these criteria, please register below. If you do not, please try and find landlords and letting agents in your area who might help, and get them to sign up.’
A central theme of the 66th Berlin Film Festival (Berlinale) was the plight of refugees and the ramifications for Europe and the world arising from the historically unprecedented mass movement of people fleeing war and poverty. The fact that the main prize of the festival went to a film, Fire at Sea (Fuocoammare) by Gianfranco Rosi, dealing directly with the fate of refugees attempting to enter Europe, is significant: here.
French security forces violently attacked refugees with tear gas Monday as they launched the demolition of the refugee camp in Calais. The assault, launched as Macedonian police assaulted refugees at the Greek border to shut off the Balkan route leading to Germany, testifies to the escalating persecution of refugees throughout Europe: here.
‘WITH our aid, let us through! Refugees are human too!’ hundreds of angry protesters demanded after their 250-vehicle strong Convoy to Calais was blocked by UK police from boarding the ferry at the port of Dover, at the bequest of the French state: here.
Last Thursday, Germany’s lower house of parliament (Bundestag) passed the so-called Asylum Package II by a large majority. The upper house (Bundesrat) then agreed on Friday to this further restriction of the country’s right to asylum as well as a law making it easier to deport convicted foreigners: here.
German Chancellor Merkel’s refugee policy and the call for a European army: here.
Wednesday 24th February 2016
posted by Morning Star in World
by Our Foreign Desk
REFUGEES in Calais’s “Jungle” camp won a brief reprieve from eviction yesterday.
French authorities had given an estimated 3,000 people forced from their homelands by war and persecution until 8pm to vacate the southern part of the camp, near the Channel tunnel lorry terminal, saying it was a health hazard.
But refugee charities went to court to seek a last-minute delay of the eviction.
The court had been expected to issue a ruling yesterday, but it announced that it would make no decision before today at the earliest.
Officials estimate that 800 to 1,000 people currently live on the site, but humanitarian groups contend that the figure is more than 3,000.
Regional administration head Fabienne Buccio said the expulsion order did not mean authorities would use force.
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve insisted the eviction would be “progressive.”
Maya Konforti of aid group Migrants’ Hostel said volunteers would stand by the refugees if authorities tried to force them out.
“We are going to be at their side, you know, no matter what.
“We are very suspicious but we are hopeful that they are going to be reasonable, because we are reasonable,” she said.
Greek police forcibly removed hundreds of Afghan refugees from the Macedonian border yesterday.
Police chiefs from Austria, Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia and Macedonia agreed last week to only allow in people “arriving from war-torn areas.”
The European Commission said yesterday it had concerns about that approach and would raise the matter with the relevant countries.
Thursday 25th February 2016
posted by Morning Star in World
EUROPEAN Parliament president Martin Schulz defended yesterday Belgium’s decision to suspend its no-passport agreement with France in response to threats to clear the Calais refugee camp.
Belgian interior minister Jan Jambon announced the move on Tuesday as French police prepared to clear the so-called Jungle camp near the Channel tunnel lorry terminal.
Passport-free travel across the border was suspended to prevent evicted refugees from entering Belgium.
The deadline of 8pm on Tuesday for up to 3,000 inhabitants to leave the camp was postponed following court action by refugee charities.
The administrative court in Lille said yesterday that its decision on the mass eviction could be reached today.
Mr Schulz said yesterday that the suspension was in line with Schengen area rules, which allow states to temporarily restore pre-treaty border controls.
Last month Schengen area states Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Austria all suspended the agreement in response to the refugee crisis.
Tuesday 1st March 2016
posted by Morning Star in World
by Our Foreign Desk
FRENCH riot police fired tear gas as they began demolishing the Calais “Jungle” refugee camp yesterday.
Tear gas was reportedly used in response to stone-throwers at the shanty town, which is home to about 4,000 people.
Lines of police vans gathered on the perimeter of the camp’s southern section and people were prevented from entering the site.
A Doctors of the World spokesman said basic supplies and care materials were being prepared for those evicted but the charity’s medics had been unable to gain access as the entrance was blocked by police.
The mass eviction started after a judge in Lille ruled last Thursday that a partial clearance should go ahead, excluding social spaces such as schools and places of worship.
Residents have been offered beds in converted shipping containers — each sleeping 12 — with fingerprint-activated locks.
But many have refused, fearing that the fingerprinting process is just a ruse to make it more difficult for them to travel to Britain.
British campaigners condemned the camp clearance and the heavy-handed police methods used to achieve it.
Rights organisation Liberty said political leaders should not be “looking away” from the plight of refugees at the Jungle, including unaccompanied children.
British charity Help Refugees representative Tanya Freedman said: “We’re very disappointed because French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve insisted in a public statement that the clearance would be done in a humane fashion.
“On the first major day of dismantling, this is the way they are going about things.”
Don Flynn of the Migrants’ Rights Network said: “This is a distressing development that will do nothing to deal with the real issues.
“We know from past eviction exercises that it will simply scatter the refugees across a wider area of northern France and still leave them with all the dangers of an insecure and vulnerable existence.
“Rather than talk to the people in the Jungle about their real needs for a safe haven, the French authorities, with the full backing of the British government, favour inflicting police raids, bulldozers and even greater hardship on the refugees.”
Tuesday 1st February 2016
posted by Morning Star in World
MACEDONIAN police used tear gas and stun grenades to force back hundreds of frustrated refugees who tried to force their way across the border from Greece yesterday.
Reinforcements were flown in by helicopter when desperate Iraqis and Syrians broke down a gate at a rail crossing near Idomeni after pushing their way past Greek police.
Several women and children were nearly trampled in the melee and Macedonian authorities said that one officer was injured.
Macedonia has adopted a one-in, one-out policy, only admitting as many refugees from Greece as Serbia takes from its territory and then only those from Syria and Iraq.
As a result some 6,500 people are stranded at the Idomeni border point waiting to move northward.
Police allowed just 50 people to cross at noon yesterday after a train with 450 refugees left the border for Serbia in the morning.
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