My outrage at headlines like this has been tempered slightly by the knowledge that at least one political party in this country is standing up for basic human rights and decency. Caroline Lucas, as ever, said it eloquently:
- British and French governments’ plot to deport ‘Jungle’ asylum seekers breaks EU human rights law, says Green Party leader
Green MEP for the South East, Caroline Lucas, today responded angrily to news that French police have raided the ‘Jungle’ camps in Calais, reportedly detaining 278 people – 132 children of whom are said to be children.
Police have swooped on a squalid tented area known as ‘The Jungle’ outside Calais, home to hundreds of refugees and migrants from war-torn countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq or Somalia. Around a fifth of them are thought to be children, living in desperate and dangerous conditions, sleeping rough, with little access to sanitation or resources.
Green Party leader Caroline Lucas MEP said:
“Today’s mass clearance and destruction of the ‘Jungle’ camps by the French authorities, involving the detention of hundreds of refugees, is simply unacceptable – and must be condemned by the international community.
“Rather than fulfilling their responsibilities to seekers of asylum under both EU and international law, the French and British governments are turning a blind eye to the suffering taking place on their own doorsteps. Home Secretary Alan Johnson‘s glee in the wake of this aggressive police raid is particularly disturbing.
“The plan for mass deportations of these refugees rides roughshod over the European Convention on Human Rights, the 1951 Refugee Convention and the Geneva Convention. And given that so many facing expulsion are children, the plans may also breach the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
"This short term ‘solution’ is not only inhumane – it will not work. The French are not playing their part in allowing people to claim asylum in Calais, and must commit to making the official procedures for seeking asylum more accessible to those in need. Equally, other EU Member states must recognise their duty to share the responsibility.”
The majority of refugees in the ‘Jungle’ have had no contact with official authorities since entering the EU. Many face a risk of deportation before they have even been interviewed in order to determine whether they are seeking asylum and are, therefore, protected by EU asylum law. They are also often at the mercy of ruthless people traffickers within the camps.
Caroline Lucas MEP concluded:
“Many migrants into France and the UK are fleeing in part from the dire consequences of the West’s foreign policy mistakes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Given this reality, you would hope that these governments would take their responsibilities to the international community more seriously.
“It is disgusting that vulnerable people from some of the world’s most troubled countries are treated so inhumanely on European soil. Many residents in the camps are genuine asylum-seekers and not illegal immigrants. It is crucial that those people fleeing persecution and war have free access to the correct information so that they know they can make a genuine claim for asylum.”
In a letter to the European Commission back in July, the UK’s Green MEPs called for an immediate suspension of plans to deport around 1,800 individuals from the ‘Jungle’, warning that the planned action – being taken jointly by the French and British authorities under the Evian Agreement – would be in direct breach of EU and international law on human rights and refugees.