Callousness in Calais

THE PORT of Calais has been a bone of contention one way or another between the French and English/British governments for many hundreds of years and the old animosity is rising again over the refugee encampment in Calais as next year’s French general election approaches.

Refugees suffer from insanitary living conditions and law and order problems as they desperately try to get themselves across the Channel into Britain, by whatever means possible.

The extreme right wing Front National (FN) is gaining support on the strength of general French discontent over the situation is Calais. Around half the population of Calais itself are voting for the FN. The mayor of Calais, Xavier Bertrand, is calling for “migrants” passing through France on their way to try to get to Britain to be able to apply for entry permits in advance at a “hotspot”.

There are already British immigration officials in Calais vetting those applying to come to Britain legally (mainly these would be people who already have relative living here legally).

The British Home Office says these people should seek asylum as soon as they arrive in Europe — which would put an inordinate burden on Greece and Italy.

Former French President Nicholas Sarkozy wants the Calais camp demolished and the “migrants” sent either to Britain to be vetted when they get here or sent back by plane to wherever they have come from.

Basically both Britain and France want these thousands of people to become someone else’s problem and are kicking their fate around like a football. Both governments are referring to them as “migrants” when the proper term should be refugees, or asylum seekers.

Our party recognises a nation’s right to limit the number if migrants who want to come to settle as long as it is not done on a racist or discriminatory way. But both governments are guilty of systemic racism and discrimination.

And refugees, under the United Nations charter, to which Britain and France are signatories, should be treated differently to ordinary migrants. Every country has a responsibility to take in and provide a safe place for those who are fleeing for their lives.

But the hypocrisy of both the French and British governments is infinitely more outrageous when both the governments have played a large part in making the homes of these refugees impossible to live in safely.

Britain, France and the United States have been guilty on invasions and interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria since 1990. Most of the problems of the whole region are the result of imperialist interventions and wars that have been going on for over a century now and are being fought mainly for control of oil supplies.

The first thing they should do is to stop making the situation worse by ceasing their interventions in these countries and pay some reparations to the people who have been forced to flee their homes.

They speak of the refugees as though these people had just upped and left their homes on some irrational whim and had brought all their problems on themselves and as though this country and France have no responsibility for their plight.

The callous disregard for the fate of those trapped in the hellish encampment in Calais — who include many unaccompanied children, is staggering. They should give due respect to nations much poorer than Britain and France that are accommodating many more refugees than those who have made it to north-west Europe.

Both Britain and France have a responsibility to take in thousands more refugees than they have been willing to accept but most of all to stop creating new refugees by honouring the sovereignty of nations in the Middle East and Africa and allowing the people there to live in peace and enjoy the natural wealth of their home countries.