Socialist Worker

Activists step up global refugee solidarity action

by Ken Olende
Issue No. 2473

Refugees on the Greek island of Lesvos

Refugees on the Greek island of Lesvos (Pic: Amal Azzudin)


Anti-racists in Britain are keeping up solidarity work as more refugees are killed trying to get into Europe.

At least 17 people drowned when their boat capsized off the Turkish coast last weekend. It was heading for the Greek Island of Kos. Such drownings are a regular occurrence and the number of those who die is likely to go up. 

Around 5,000 refugees a day are arriving at the Greek islands by boat from Turkey. As the summer draws to an end seas are getting stormier.

Britain’s Tory prime minister David Cameron has tried to make it appear that people who have risked their lives to get to Europe are less deserving than those unable to travel. Socialist Worker has always argued that everyone should have the right to travel freely. 

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres pointed out, “One of the reasons that refugees started to move in such big numbers was because international assistance declined.”

Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) groups are being set up around the Britain. They are organising meetings to raise support for refugees and collecting money and goods to take to the impoverished people. 

SUTR is organising a second solidarity delegation to the French port of Calais for Saturday 17 October. 

The government and right wing media’s appalling racist response to the humanitarian crisis in Calais should be condemned in the strongest possible terms.

Shifting

Refugees making the long journey from the Greek islands to western Europe get caught in eastern European states’ shifting policies, as different countries open and close their borders. 

Germany has currently halted rail services to Austria and Hungary temporarily this week.

A young man was hit by a freight train and killed near the Calais entrance to the Channel Tunnel on Thursday of last week. The unidentified teenager is believed to be from Eritrea or South Sudan. 

This brings the total number of people known to have died making the crossing to 12 this summer. 

The same week the French authorities deported two men arrested at the camp to Sudan. This was in breach of a decision by the European Court of Human Rights, which said that it is not a safe destination to send people to.

On Friday of last week hundreds of people from the camp demonstrated against the violence and racism of the French state. 

Police had repeatedly attacked refugees over the last week to reduce the area the camp takes up. 

The British government says that the first of the Syrian refugees it is taking directly from camps in the region have arrived. This is part of the “vulnerable persons resettlement scheme” it is punting as an alternative to taking a share of refugees. 

It will not say how many this is or where they are. Cameron wants to get “deserving” people from the camps. They will not be granted asylum status, but will be able to apply for it after five years.


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