Double punishment for Calais refugees

Issue section: 
Issue: 
(340)

On the morning of 22 September French riot police razed a makeshift camp in Calais where mostly Afghan refugees were living as they waited to cross over to Britain.

Despite the presence of human rights activists, the police arrested 276 people - half of them minors.

Eric Besson, the French immigration minister, ordered the clearout of what was dubbed "the jungle" in order to "stop traffickers".

It is ironic of Besson to try to put a humanistic veneer on his action. Refugees set up the camp after French authorities decided in November 2002 to close the Red Cross camp in Sangatte that used to look after them. And the French government wasn't worried when most of the refugees found themselves on the streets at the beginning of winter.

The countries the refugees come from read like a list of the battlegrounds of the "war on terror": Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Palestine.

Britain is also responsible for the treatment of the refugees as New Labour and the right wing press are to happy to keep them at bay. The government should take responsibility and welcome the refugees. After all, they are only fleeing the death zones created by imperialism.