7th September 2016
Refugees in Calais and Northern France must be treated with dignity and in accordance with international law, and the British and French governments must urgently find long-term humane solutions to their plight, Green MEPs have urged today.
The call comes after the Calais ‘Jungle’ camp was again in the headlines on both sides of the Channel. Protests against the camp by local residents took place this week, the French Government announced it will completely close the camp, and there was fresh disruption to cross-Channel traffic, and now there are Donald Trump-esque plans to build a monstrous wall.
Jean Lambert, MEP for London and Green Party migration spokesperson said:
“The decision to build a wall in Calais is the latest wrong move in what is the ongoing scandal of the handling of the plight of refugees in northern France. Successive French and British governments have utterly failed to fulfil their responsibilities towards the vulnerable people who find themselves in the camps, especially unaccompanied children. A wall will do nothing to improve the security of vulnerable refugees and asylum seekers or local residents, lorry drivers and cross-channel travellers.
“Adding to the already chaotic situation will only cause more children to go missing and give more control to criminal gangs. The authorities need to gain the trust of people in the camps, provide them with the information they are entitled to, give them a sense of security, and handle their asylum claims properly.
“The UK government must get its act together. Many of the people in Calais have a legal right to be reunited with family in the UK. The slow speed at which governments are dealing with asylum claims is inexcusable. People who find themselves in these camps do not want to enter the UK illegally but they need support to access the asylum system and no matter what they need to be treated with dignity.”
Keith Taylor, MEP for the South East of England, said:
“The situation in Calais is a symptom of a problem; dismantling the camps and removing the last scraps of dignity and security from their residents will not solve the problem. Building a wall is certainly not the answer either. Only through cross-border political cooperation can we hope to alleviate what is a global crisis.
“I empathise with the frustrations of local residents, hauliers, and travellers on both sides of the channel, but we cannot allow this Humanitarian crisis to be exploited by resurgent French or British far right groups. The dehumanising campaigns against camp residents cannot become justification for abandoning our legal and moral duties to approach this crisis with humanity.
“History will not judge our nations kindly if French and British governments refuse to work together constructively on this issue. Attacking the symptoms will never solve the problem.”
Molly Scott Cato MEP, who visited the ‘jungle’ camp in Calais earlier this year and is Green Party spokesperson on EU relations, said:
“The new wall will turn out to be another hugely expensive sticking plaster that will simply result in people going further to get round it and will push up tariffs for people smugglers. Instead, the British Government should be registering applications for asylum in the camps in France to quickly identify those people with a right to enter Britain. Perhaps a wall fits better with the fortress Britain mentality which seems to be at the heart of those pushing for a hard Brexit.”