Libyan gunmen drive Doctors Without Borders refugee rescuers away

This video says about itself:

On August 26 [2015], a Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) rescue ship, the Bourbon Argos, completed two rescue operations, saving some 800 refugees from smugglers’ boats in the Mediterranean Sea. The first boat was a large wooden fishing boat in distress with approximately 650 people on board; the second was a rubber boat first spotted by a Tunisian fishing vessel, carrying about 150 people. After the rescues, the Bourbon Argos began its journey with around 800 people, most of them from Syria, along with people from Ivory Coast, Mali, Cameroon, Nigeria, Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, towards the port of Vibo Valentia in Italy.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) leaves the Libyan coast for the time being

Today, 18:52

MSF’s ship Prudence no longer sails near Libya to rescue migrants. MSF said to have decided that because they said the Libyan coastguard is hostile to humanitarian organizations sailing near the coast of Libya.

Which Libyan coastguard? There are at least three governments in Libya, all with their own gunmen killing each other and civilians.

MSF says the Libyan authorities want to set up their own coastal rescue zone, which will continue into international waters. Libya would like to stop the presence of foreign ships.

Code of Conduct

The Libyan attitude worries MSF, among other things, because it makes the fate of the migrants still more uncertain. According to witnesses, the Libyan coastguard often abuses boat migrants. In addition, the migrants are brought back to Libya against their will.

Back to Libya, where they will be locked up in torture jails and be subject to sexual abuse.

The organization is also concerned about the cooperation of the Italian and Libyan coastguards. …

Recently, a ship from the organization Jugend Rettet was chained in Sicily because it was said to have collaborated with Libyan smugglers to pick up migrants. Italy demanded from all organizations that they would sign a code of conduct to counteract such practices. Jugend Rettet and Doctors Without Borders have refused that.

UPDATE: Rescue organisations Sea Eye and Save the Children have done the same as MSF.

Tunisian fishermen stop neonazi anti-refugee ship

Tunisian fishermen gather on August 6, 2017 in the port of Zarzis in southeastern Tunisia to protest against a possible berthing of the neonazi anti-refugee C-Star vessel (AFP Photo/FATHI NASRI)

From AFP news agency:

Tunisian fishermen stall ‘racist’ anti-migrant ship’s progress

Giovanni GREZZI

August 6, 2017

ABOARD the MS AQUARIUS – Fishermen at a Tunisian port on Sunday prevented a ship carrying far-right anti-immigration activists from docking, dealing a fresh blow to a controversial mission aimed at disrupting the flow of migrant boats from north Africa to Europe.

Faced with the prospect of being blocked by the fishermen in Zarzis, the ship, the C-Star, moved up the Tunisian coast, and was expected by opponents tracking its path to try to land at either Sfax or Gabes on Monday.

Chartered by extremist group “Generation Identity“,

“Generation Identity”, like “alt-right“, is just a new name for old Hitlerite nazism. These C-Star fascists who want violence against refugees fleeing from NATO’s wars to Europe are Holocaust denialists.

According to Dutch NOS TV today, canoeists and water cyclists helped the fishermen block Zarzis harbour for the racist ship.

the C-Star passed through waters off Libya on Saturday.

It briefly tailed the Aquarius, operated by French group SOS Mediterranee, one of several NGO boats conducting search and rescue operations in an area notorious for deadly migrant boat sinkings.

Having left Cyprus on August 1, the 40-metre (130-foot) C-Star needs to land in Tunisia for supplies but appeared to have been caught off guard by the strength of opposition among local fishermen, as well as rights groups.

“If they come here we’ll close the refuelling channel,” Chamseddine Bourassine, the head of the local fishermen’s organisation, told AFP.

“It is the least we can do given what is happening out in the Mediterranean,” he added.

“Muslims and Africans are dying.”

An official at the port, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “What? Us let in racists here? Never!”

– 10,000 dead –

The C-Star headed straight from Cyprus to Libyan waters after being discouraged from attempting to dock en route in Greece and Sicily, with authorities concerned about the prospect of protests.

The self-styled “Defend Europe” mission has not got off to the best of starts.

Their boat was held up for a week in the Suez Canal by Egyptian authorities looking for weapons.

Then, after it landed in the Cypriot port of Famagusta last month, several of its crew jumped ship and asked for asylum in Europe — exactly the kind of thing the mission was set up to prevent. …

Humanitarian groups say Generation Identity is engaged in a publicity stunt and that any attempt to turn migrant boats back to Libya would be potentially very dangerous and illegal under international law.

Since the start of 2014, some 600,000 people from Africa, the Middle East and South Asia have been rescued from traffickers’ boats and taken to Italy.

Over 10,000 have died en route and serial sinkings have resulted in privately funded or charity-run boats joining a multinational search and rescue operation coordinated by Italy’s coastguard.

NGO boats have rescued around one-third of the nearly 100,000 people picked up this year, but their relations with Italy have become strained as pressure to stem the flow of migrants has mounted. …

Rights organisations have voiced concern over the focus on sending boats back to Libya, where migrants who fail to get to Europe often end up in detention in squalid camps where they risk torture, sexual violence and forced labour. …

The crisis has also caused strains in Rome’s relations with its EU neighbours, who have blocked migrants landing in Italy from travelling further north.

See also here.

The latest news from today is that the neonazi ship does not sail any more, but has been, and still is, stranded for over a day, miles off the Tunisian coast.

British government’s xenophobia criticized by United Nations

This video from the USA says about itself:

11 November 2015

Nearly 60 million people worldwide have been driven from their homes by war and persecution. Half of the displaced are children. For once, instead of spending billions on war, we can use our resources to provide humanitarian relief and save lives. Call Congress and demand they do more by supporting the Graham-Leahy bill NOW: 1-877-429-0678 SIGN PETITION.

By Zoe Streatfield in Britain:

UN calls on ‘irresponsible’ government to do its bit

Saturday 5th August 2017

UNITED NATIONS called on the Tory government yesterday to double the amount of refugees admitted under resettlement programmes while slamming the “irresponsible” hate speech from some politicians and sections of the media.

UN High Commission for Refugees assistant Volker Turk said accepting around 10,000 refugees a year would be a “step change” for Britain and would double the current rate.

So far the government has committed to taking in 20,000 refugees by 2020 under a scheme to help those fleeing the war in Syria, with 5,453 granted humanitarian protection under the programme in the year ending March 2017, and 3,000 vulnerable children and family members.

Mr Turk, who was in London speaking to ministers, said he hoped the government would expand its programme “significantly” after 2020, and have a “regular resettlement programme open to people fleeing trouble spots around the world, not just Syria.”

He said: “I think we have to be very honest about the need for countries to contribute and to step up.”

Amnesty International UK director Kate Allen attacked the government for its “poor” response to the refugee crisis.

She said it has “effectively turned its back on some of the most vulnerable people on the planet, and failed properly to live up to its obligations to protect those fleeing conflict and persecution.”

Ms Allen warned that the crisis would not go away until Prime Minister Theresa May and other world leaders started working together “to genuinely share responsibility for hosting refugees and provide more secure and legal routes to safety.”

The government did not respond to a request for comment.

Saving refugees from drowning, criminal?

This German TV video in English says about itself:

Iuventa – Rescuing refugees in the Mediterranean Sea

25 July 2017

Join me in 360 on a rescue mission in the Mediterranean Sea. The vessel “Iuventa”, Italian for youth, is run by volunteers of the German NGO “Jugend rettet”. Their area of operation is off the Libyan coast, the deadliest migration route. Lately, the rescuers are confronted with harsh criticism. What do you think?

After hardline European Commission pressure led to torturing refugees in Italy … now it leads to letting more refugees drown.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV:

Italy chains ship of German rescue organization

Yesterday, 21:14

The Italian authorities have chained a ship from a German rescue organization which seeks to save refugees on boats. Italy accuses the organization of taking over refugees from human traffickers at the Libyan coast.

According to the Italian authorities, the aid organization is guilty of illegal immigration. But to Associated Press news agency, Public Prosecutor Ambrogio Cartosio says: “My personal conviction is that the motive [of Jugend Rettet] is humanitarian, exclusively humanitarian.”

So, apparently there is Mr Cartosio the human being, telling the truth.

And there is Mr Cartosio the robot of xenophobic governmental and European Union policy, making saving human beings from drowning a crime.

The Iuventa, navigating under the Dutch flag may no longer leave the port of Lampedusa, a small island near Sicily. The ship is manned by volunteers from the group Jugend Rettet (Youth Saves) from Berlin.

Fewer relief organizations

Italy wants to significantly reduce the number of aid organizations active in the Mediterranean area. The country only wants to allow ships from non-governmental organizations affiliated with Frontex, the European border agency for the external borders of Europe.

Dear Italian government: if a non-governmental organization gets affiliated with governmental Frontex, then it ceases to be ‘non-governmental’. Frontex aims to keep refugees out, whatever the cost in human lives. This is like telling a non-governmental organisation criticizing torture by police that they will be banned unless they affiliate with that torturing police force.

Accusations are false, Jugend Rettet says.

On August 3, the Italian government sent the frigate Commandante Borsini into Libyan territorial waters to stop refugees fleeing Libya for Europe. This violation of the sovereignty of Libya, a former Italian colony, aims to destroy refugee vessels and force refugees back into Libya, where the militias that have controlled the country ever since the devastating NATO war against Libya in 2011 detain them in appalling conditions: here.

Saving refugees from drowning, a crime?

This Associated Press video says about itself:

NGOs help rescue migrants in Mediterranean

(3 Feb 2017) The number of migrants risking their lives to cross the Mediterranean sea surged on Friday … an NGO operating in the area said.

Doctors Without Borders said in a tweet that their rescue boat north of the Libyan coast was operating over capacity and holding 720 migrants after five rescues.

The Aquarius was receiving assistance from a another vessel operated by Proactiva Open Arms, a Spanish NGO, that rescued 222 migrants, including one baby and two children, from two boats on Friday.

There were more boats in the sea, said the Proactiva Open Arms spokeswoman Laura Lanuza.

The migrants, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa, were being transferred to an Italian port in Sicily, Lanuza said.

By Marianne Arens:

European Union and Italy step up pressure on organisations assisting refugees

29 July 2017

On July 25, Italian Interior Minister Marco Minniti (Democratic Party) ordered representatives of nine non-governmental organisations (NGOs) involved in the rescue of refugees to attend a meeting at his ministry. There they were called upon to sign a “Code of Conduct,” restricting their activities in the Mediterranean Sea.

As the WSWS noted two weeks ago, the new code violates “existing law”: “On the high seas international maritime law prevails, which obligatorily demands the rescue of people in distress … this is precisely what the ‘Code of Conduct’ is designed to prevent the NGOs and their rescue boats from undertaking.”

Should NGOs fail to sign the sinister, illegal code, Italy has threatened to close its ports to their ships. This is the latest disgraceful attempt by Italian authorities to rein in the activities of voluntary aid organisations and thereby reduce the number of migrants arriving from Africa. They want to restrict the NGOs and drive them out of the Mediterranean—or at least transform them into reliable adjuncts of the European Union (EU) Frontex operation and the Italian coast guard.

The migrant flight route across the Mediterranean is extremely dangerous. According to the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), as of July 23, 2,361 people had either died or gone missing in 2017, while some 95,000 migrants had reached Italy by sea. The dead include an estimated 300 children.

Without the NGOs, the number of drowned and missing people would be considerably higher. Currently more than 40 percent of refugees rescued at sea owe their lives to organisations such as Sea-Watch, Sea-Eye, MOAS (Migrant Offshore Aid Station), Jugend Rettet (Rescuing Youth), Save the Children, Doctors Without Borders, SOS Méditerranée, Proactiva Open Arms, etc.

“We are just in mid-July,” noted Timon Marszalek, the director of SOS Méditerranée Germany, “and we’ve saved as many people in the Mediterranean as we did last year. In view of the failure of the European Union, the intervention of civilian organisations like our own is indispensable to prevent the deaths of thousands of people.”

Marszalek pointed to one recent incident on July 11, in which a baby was born during a rescue operation. Mother and child were still connected by an umbilical cord when they were brought on board the Aquarius. This was the fifth birth at sea on this one rescue ship alone. “What would have happened if our team had not been there on time?” the SOS Méditerranée official asked. Such examples also show how desperate people must be to take to sea.

The “Code of Conduct” that NGOs are now being required to sign by the government of Paolo Gentiloni (Democratic Party) is a crude and deliberate attempt to sabotage rescue efforts. It establishes harsh guidelines and demands that refugees be transported directly to the Italian mainland instead of being transferred to larger ships belonging to the coast guard, merchant marine or navy. This forces the small NGO ships to undertake longer journeys and restricts their presence in the most dangerous waters where their work is most necessary.

Ruben Neugebauer of Sea-Watch told Deutschlandfunk (German radio): “What they want to achieve is obvious: they are trying to keep ships out of the danger zone because we undermine the concept of dying on Europe’s borders.”

NGOs are also forbidden to enter Libyan territorial waters, even if refugees’ lives are at stake. They must look on as people drown, without being able to intervene. NGOs must also accept Italian police accompanying their vessels to track down smugglers among the refugees. This can only lead to a worsening of relations between the rescue teams and refugees.

The “Code of Conduct” is not merely the work of the Italian authorities. It was agreed upon at a meeting of EU ministers in Tallinn, Estonia in early July. At that meeting German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière repeated his slanderous claim that NGOs were working with so-called people smugglers.

German newspapers have also run articles accusing NGOs of collaboration with smugglers. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung claimed, for example, that the rescue organisations were “involuntarily becoming an important element in the smugglers’ strategies.”

The Berliner Zeitung scandalously asserted that the NGOs’ role was not rescuing those in need at sea, but rather “assisting refugees and the transfer of emigrants.” The newspaper referred disapprovingly to Sea-Watch, based in Berlin. That organisation, which has not signed the “Code of Conduct,” rightly argues that there is already an International Law of the Sea, which obliges every boat owner to assist in sea rescue when necessary.

The Berliner Zeitung complains, however, that while it is “self-evident” that shipwrecked persons be saved, “this does not answer the question as to where to land those rescued. Sea-Watch 2 does not return the stranded to Libya, but brings them all to Europe.”

This slanderous article and the steps taken by the various EU interior ministers against the NGOs reveal there is a concerted campaign to drive private organisations out of the seas along the Libyan coast.

This campaign is bound up with unprecedented military deployment taking place in the Mediterranean off the North African coast. Taking part in the operation, which has been ongoing since June 2015 under the innocuous name of “Operation Sophia” (formerly known as Eunavfor [European Union Naval Force] Med), are the navies of Germany, Italy, Great Britain and other European countries.

On the same day the NGOs were summoned to the Italian Interior Ministry, the EU decided to extend the “Sophia” mission to the end of 2018. Officially, the remit of the operation is to combat “smuggler criminality on the Mediterranean” and thus prevent deaths at sea. In fact, the combined navies are responsible for just 8 percent of sea rescue operations.

In reality, mission “Sophia” is an important part of Europe’s plans for imperialist intervention in Africa. The Great Powers regard Africa as a strategically crucial area, with huge oil and natural gas deposits and other resources. With the war against Libya in 2011 and the fall of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, the new colonial “scramble for Africa” entered a new phase.

For the past six years the imperialist powers have been trying to install a new, reliable and loyal regime in Libya, which is key for access to Africa as a whole. This explains the background of a third important meeting in Paris on July 25: the new French president, Emmanuel Macron, invited the two main rivals in the Libyan civil war, Fayez al-Sarraj, the unelected head of the Western-backed Libyan Presidential Council, and Khalifa Hafter, [unelected] head of the so-called Libyan National Army and an “asset” of the CIA since the 1980s. The two men subsequently agreed to suspend their armed struggle and hold parliamentary elections in the spring of 2018. On Wednesday, Sarraj visited Italian government officials in Rome.

The EU has committed itself to continue financing the Libyan coast guard and equipping it with weapons. The European Union is supporting an organisation notorious for trafficking in human beings, torture and murder. At the request of the EU, the Libyan coast guard forces refugees into Libyan prisons, where around 300,000 people are currently being held under appalling conditions.

For their part, NGOs must decide whether or not to cooperate with the Italian government and sign the “Code of Conduct.” The NGOs rely on private donations and young volunteers. Their efforts demonstrate a widespread willingness to assist and defend refugees.

This readiness was confirmed a few weeks ago in a poll carried out by the European Broadcasting Agency. Almost 1 million young people between the ages of 18 and 35 were interviewed. Nearly three quarters (72 percent) said they were willing to actively support immigrants. Some 78 percent of respondents in Germany said they noticed growing nationalism, and considered it a bad thing. More than two-thirds (67 percent) of young people in Germany and the overwhelming majority of young people surveyed said they were not ready to fight in a war.

The poll demonstrates the abyss between the vast majority of the population and establishment politics. Millions of workers and young people express their solidarity with the refugees and are ready to help them, while the political elite and governments are permitting thousands to drown in the Mediterranean.

British government persecutes LGBT refugees

This 1 July 2017 Dutch video from Amsterdam in the Netherlands is called Sports day for LGBT refugees.

Unfortunately, not all news about LGBTQ refugees in the Netherlands is good news. Sometimes, the Dutch government tries to deport them to war zones.

Unfortunately, bad news about LGBTQ refugees in Britain as well.

By Leila Zadeh in Britain:

Why is Britain still punishing LGBT asylum seekers?

Thursday 27th July 2017

People fleeing homophobic persecution too often find themselves subject to ill-treatment and discrimination here, says LEILA ZADEH

As we mark 50 years since the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality, LGBTQI+ people who seek sanctuary in Britain from persecution in other countries are subjected to invasive questioning and risk being detained indefinitely.

More than 70 countries in the world criminalise same-sex acts and many LGBTQI+ people are at risk from persecution for being who they are.

It is not unusual for LGBTQI+ people attending asylum interviews to be asked questions based on assumptions of what it is to be LGBTQI+, that focus on intimate details of their sexual conduct, or that re-traumatise individuals.

One person was recently asked what it felt like when they were being raped. Another was asked when they first had sex with their partner.

Others end up having to explain why they are not heterosexual. One man was recently told that the caseworker did not believe he was gay since some cross-dressers identify as straight.

The Home Office also puts some LGBTQI+ people seeking asylum into detention. Britain has one of the largest detention estates in Europe and, shockingly, is alone in detaining people for indefinite amounts of time.

At the UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group, we regularly visit people who have been detained for several months: people who have applied to stay in this country for fear of persecution — including beatings, rape and death — in their countries of origin.

Our joint research with Stonewall has found that in detention, LGBTQI+ people who are seeking asylum suffer discrimination, harassment and violence from other detainees.

People are made to share rooms with people who share similar prejudices and abusive behaviours to those they are trying to flee: people who are homophobic, biphobic or transphobic.

One person reported feeling as unsafe in the detention centre as they did in Pakistan.

“He was in the gallery and he called: ‘Hey! Mr Gay, I love you! I want to fuck you.’ I was so scared. I just went in my room. Here in detention it is the same as where I came from. I was so scared.”

Many have reported that detention centre staff have failed to act on such bullying. Detention can have serious effects on the physical well-being of LGBTQI+ people.

In detention, some have reported not receiving medication for heart conditions or HIV. Trans people on gender-affirming hormones are denied continued access to treatment, adversely affecting their mental and physical wellbeing.

The detrimental impact on mental health can also be long-lasting. LGBTQI+ people can suffer depression or panic attacks, or self-harm. Some detainees have attempted suicide.

After being released from detention, LGBTQI+ people seeking asylum often experience flashbacks, suffer memory loss or find themselves unable to sleep.

LGBTQI+ people are often excluded from communities from their countries of origin because of prejudice against them. Identifying and accessing LGBTQI+ support networks is challenging.

The experience of detention makes it hard for them to settle into society even when they have regained their freedom.

Detention can also restrict the ability of LGBTQI+ people to gather evidence in support of their asylum claims. LGBTQI+ people frequently need to provide evidence from witnesses in their countries of origin to testify to their sexual orientation or gender identity as part of their asylum applications.

In detention, they can find it almost impossible to contact people in their countries of origin discreetly to gather such evidence. Many of their contacts at home also fear persecution if they are associated with someone who identifies as LGBTQI+.

Restrictions on smartphones and social networking sites in detention can also stop LGBTQI+ people from gathering the evidence they need to pursue their cases and get written records of their past relationships.

Britain has made great strides in protecting and promoting the rights of LGBTQI+ people in the last 50 years. Our government also seeks to promote the rights of LGBTQI+ people in other countries.

Yet its treatment of people from those same countries who seek protection on British soil stands in sharp contrast.

LGBTQI+ people from countries where they are persecuted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity hope that Britain’s record in respecting human rights will protect them.

They want to enjoy the freedoms that other LGBTQI+ people in Britain enjoy. Yet often they encounter a system that refuses to believe they are LGBTQI+ or that they face persecution, and adds to their trauma by putting them into detention for an indefinite amount of time.

More training is needed of Home Office caseworkers so that asylum interviews treat people with dignity.

Decision-makers also need to be better trained in assessing sexual orientation in asylum claims. The government should also aim to issue guidance soon on gender identity in asylum claims.

The government should ensure that vulnerable people like LGBTQI+ asylum-seekers are not put into detention centres and that all immigration detention has a time limit of 28 days.

Leila Zadeh is executive director of the UK Lesbian & Gay Immigration Group.

French Macron attacks refugees

This video says about itself:

“Refugees are part of our DNA” / “Les réfugiés font partie de notre ADN” 👉🏽 Emmanuel Macron

22 March 2017

French Presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron was the guest of Explicite. In English, he spoke about refugees, France’s place in NATO and Donald Trump.

That was four months ago. “Refugees are part of our DNA” then surely sounded better than the racism of extreme right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen.

However, now, four months later, Macron is no longer a candidate, but the president. Macron now attacks whom he then called part of the French DNA. Putting into practice part of Marine Le Pen’s ideas. So, that at a next election, Ms Le Pen or another far right candidate may say: ‘We are the original. Macron is a copy. Vote for the original’.

By Athiyan Silva in France:

Macron announces stepped-up attacks on immigrants in France

25 July 2017

President Emmanuel Macron’s government recently presented a new action plan for refugees and immigrants in France, launched by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on July 12.

The plan further tightens control of migratory flows in France and Europe. It creates special task forces, intensifies controls in the Mediterranean, reinforces the European border agency Frontex, and increases control capacities in “hot spot” detention camps. It imposes a six-month as opposed to 14-month deadline for the examination of asylum seekers’ cases by the French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (OFPRA) and the National court of Asylum (CNDA).

This makes clear that the policy of Macron, the former economy minister in President François Hollande’s Socialist Party (PS) government, is in direct continuity with the brutal anti-immigrant policies of the PS. Millions of refugees and immigrants are desperately seeking to escape imperialist wars devastating Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia, in which the European powers participated alongside the US government for over a quarter century.

According to the UN migration agency report, at least 1,530 refugees died while trying to cross the Mediterranean this year. More than 5,100 refugees have drowned in the Mediterranean in 2016. The refugees able to reach European soil confront even more repression from reactionary European governments and appalling living conditions.

During the presidential campaign, Macron presented himself as a more enlightened candidate, notably declaring that France’s colonial rule over Algeria was a “crime against humanity”. The media and the political establishment used these statements to contrast his positions with the openly pro-colonial positions of the neo-fascist National Front (FN).

In fact, Macron is intensifying the brutal anti-immigrant policies of the PS, which sent riot police to brutally attack and destroy the so-called “Jungle” refugee camp with over 3,000 immigrants in northern France, at Calais. The PS also shut down a refugee camp in the Stalingrad area in Paris. In neither case did the PS provide the refugees who were thrown onto the street with proper accommodations or residency visas.

Thousands of people, including women and children, have been living in appalling conditions in Paris on sidewalks next to traffic-choked streets and under elevated train bridges and highway overpasses in the Porte de la Chapelle district of Paris. That camp was forcibly evacuated by the security forces earlier this month, under Macron’s authority.

Refugees trapped in legal limbo in France have spoken out to the press about the horrific conditions they face. One former Somalian veterinary student said, “I’m exhausted from living on the street. I’m so tired and hungry, but you just have to be patient.”

An Afghan youth said, “It has been two months sleeping under a motorway bridge with little water, not much food, some fights between different groups here. You never really sleep. I would queue every day but there was no hope getting into the aid center here. We’re humans, we’re not animals.”

Ali, 29 years old, a teacher from Aleppo, Syria said, “I wanted to live like a human being. I stayed in Syria for four years under the war while things got worse and worse.”

Most refugees escaping war and state repression are simply rejected by the OFPRA. Then, they have to re-appeal to CNDA. For this process, refugees must prepare a lawyer and translate their documents into French. Vulnerable refugees who are living in the streets without any income do not have the thousands of euros that must be spent to carry out this process.

According to the OFPRA, more than 85,244 asylum seekers applied to the OFPRA in 2016. 58,635 were rejected and approximately 27,000 were accepted.

France does not grant refugee status to the small minority of refugees it allows into the country based on considerations of human rights and fundamental democratic rights. Rather, they are chosen based on whether they are highly lucrative for capitalist exploitation. The vast majority of refugees end up working in restaurants, small shops, in construction, cleaning, or working odd jobs for low wages with long hours.

The condition of refugees who do not receive refugee status is even worse, as they are forced to accept all kinds of low-paying, illegal jobs. They get a daily salary of 30 to 50 euros for long hours and no official pay sheets. They are often cheated by the employers, who then refuse to pay their salaries, knowing they cannot complain to the police. Some of them beg in the streets and railway stations. At the same time, they live in fear that they will be deported by authorities back to their war-torn home countries.

Attacks on refugees and immigrants in the advanced countries are an international phenomenon. In the United states and Europe, the political establishment targets the most impoverished and vulnerable refugees in order to divide the working class with anti-immigrant agitation. They use immigrants as scapegoats for the slashing of social benefits and in imposing austerity measures against the working class.

Macron’s immigrant action plan uses this reactionary strategy, trying to whip up anti-immigrant sentiment to divert anger over social conditions in France that he is set to worsen with his attacks on labor rights and his legislation imposing a permanent state of emergency. Recently, Macron described the French immigration system as “completely overwhelmed.”

This is a clear warning, not only to refugees and immigrants, but also to the entire working class in France and Europe. Macron, working closely with Berlin and the European Union, will only continue and intensify the attacks on democratic rights and the repression of refugees and immigrants.