Socialist Worker

Migrants' winter misery caused by Tory policies as EU ministers move to close borders

by Dave Sewell
Issue No. 2483

Migrants in Calais face worsening winter conditions

Migrants in Calais face worsening winter conditions (Pic: Guy Smallman)


At the same time as bombing Syria, the government is making it harder for Syrians to escape.

The Home Office wants to separate 20 year old Syrian Yousef Hassan in Middlesbrough from his family and kick him out of the country.

Yousef fled Syria to avoid being conscripted into the army of dictator Bashar al-Assad.

His family was granted asylum in Britain and Yousef went to join them.

But he was seized the day before he was due to see his mother again.

He spent 46 days in a detention centre—an immigration prison—then was taken to Heathrow airport to be deported.

The decision has been delayed and Yousef is now fighting for the right to stay.

“I thank the UK people for welcoming us,” said his only surviving brother Jehad.

“But we are tired, so tired of this situation. His mother is up all night, up screaming and crying, asking, ‘What will happen to Yousef?’”

The government is determined to use refugees and migrants as a scapegoat.

Charges

Tory health secretary Jeremy Hunt extended charges for immigrants using the NHS this week.

People from outside the European Economic Area will now have to pay for urgent and non-urgent care. This includes journeys in ambulances, X-rays, setting broken bones, blood tests, draining fluids and care from paramedics.

Charging migrants creates a racist two-tier system.

Some people won’t be able to afford to get care they urgently need. It also opens the door to charging everyone, undermining an NHS the Tories’ hate.

Hunt claims the measures could save £500 million a year.

If true, that’s less than a quarter of what the NHS spends paying off private finance initiative (PFI) loan sharks. It’s just 2.5 percent of the £20 billion cuts to the NHS in the last five years.

The Tories’ hostility to refugees costs lives at Britain’s border in Calais. Youssef, a 16 year old refugee from Sudan, was hit by a truck on the motorway into the Channel Tunnel last week. His was the 23rd known death at the border in 2015.

Hundreds of refugees camped in the “Jungle” shantytown held a march for Yousef last Saturday.

The French authorities have now used the state of emergency declared after the Paris attacks to attack migrants. It is now a crime punishable with jail time to go near the motorway.

Meanwhile the local government has banned migrants from using the swimming pool.

As winter conditions get worse, activists from Stand up to Racism were set to take a solidarity trip to Calais with donations this Sunday.

But the ordeal won’t end as long as the Tories lock them out.


European Union ministers close borders

European Union (EU) interior ministers plan to suspend the Schengen zone of passport-free travel. At a meeting in Brussels last weekend, they agreed to allow countries to impose border controls for up to two years.

It is an attack on refugees and the right to free movement, but also a symbolic blow to European integration. Open internal borders helped pro-EU politicians win popular support.

The Turkish government arrested 1,300 asylum seekers, including Syrians in a single sweep last month, after signing up to help keep refugees out of the EU. There are over a million Syrian refugees in Turkey. Many face hardship and exploitation.

But EU leaders also want to detain those refugees who do reach Europe in the first country they reach. For most this is Greece.

The meeting stopped short of suspending Greece from Schengen. But guards from EU border agency Frontex are to be sent to Greece’s northern border with Macedonia. Frontex focuses on stopping people entering EU countries. In Greece’s case it will aim to stop them leaving.

Hundreds of refugees are trapped at the border, protesting for the right to move on.


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