A short update today as I bring your attention to a newly released report co-produced by Help Refugees and Refugee Rights Europe. The report was released today on the two-year anniversary of the shut down of the ‘Calais Jungle’. The purpose is to highlight the increasingly dire situation for refugees in Northern France over the past few decades, and draw attention to the critical need for authorities and the British government to intervene and implement change.
The two organisations have produced a time line which covers activities of asylum seekers, government authorities and aid agencies from 1994 to the present day. The time line is easy to understand and highlights the critical information that you need to be able understand the message. The message being that the situation for the asylum seekers is worsening. They are enduring police brutality, harsh conditions, infringements of their rights and exclusion from the society they are trying to survive in.
“Interventions from the French state have increased, with a frequent clearing of camps, destruction of tents and the use of tear gas – including against sleeping minors” – Help Refugees/Refugee Rights Europe report
The report suggests that at current the authorities are creating a hostile environment in Northern France through aggression and utter abuse of their control. Such an approach strips the refugees of what little dignity they have left and makes surviving in Northern France challenging and unpleasant. Given the conditions described in the report, it is clear that the persons affected in Northern France aren’t living, they are surviving, and some of them aren’t even managing that. The report places blame for the conditions in Northern France with local authorities and the lack of action from the British government in aiding asylum seekers, especially minors, safe entry into the UK.
“Children are facing poor sanitation conditions, food insecurity, poor access to health care, legal advice and information along with exposure to sexual exploitation and abuse, and human trafficking and being subject to police violence on a daily basis” – Help Refugees/Refugee Rights Europe report
In the concluding remarks Help Refugees and Refugee Rights Europe make five succinct suggestions which if implemented could drastically change the spiralling situation for asylum seekers. These include the adoption of a non-violent approach from French authorities, and expanded safe and legal pathways to Britain. The onus to improve the lives of asylum seekers in Northern France is very much on the government and their authorities. However, the report aids in raising awareness of the realities on the ground, and provides a template for the public which can be utilised to write to your local MP asking for action to be taken. The public can help by increasing the pressure on the state to intervene and change current regulations. No one chooses to be a refugee.