Authorities in France began removing migrants and refugees from the Calais “jungle” camp on Monday. Some 8,000 refugees, including 1,500 children and young people, are being thrown to the wind.
The figure is down from over 10,000 refugees who were there in September. Some left ahead of the demolition.
But around 1,300 unaccompanied children remained in the camp—and the demolition puts them at risk.
Daniela is a volunteer in Calais with the group Help for Refugee Children. She told Socialist Worker, “It’s a complete shambles. People are confused—they don’t know what’s going on.
“Children are bound to disappear because of the lack of organisation, staff and information. And quite a few minors don’t have phones or a contact number.”
The Tories initially refused to enact the Dubs Amendment to the Immigration Act that would allow unaccompanied children into Britain. But pressure from anti-racist campaigners has forced the government to accept some children.
Citizens UK estimated that around 200 children have come to Britain from Calais in the past week. But the government has left many more at risk of harm.
Daniela said, “The British authorities have not done much. Saying that some children have managed to cross is just not enough.
“All vulnerable children should be in Britain, and should have left Calais long before this. It shouldn’t be just a ‘good amount’ so it’s covered by the media and we can pat ourselves on the back.”
Demolishing the Calais camp will not solve the refugee crisis and it’s not meant to. People have fled warzones and poverty in the hope of finding sanctuary in Europe.
Western powers are responsible for much of the destruction that has created the crisis.
European governments have cracked down on refugees. This has not stopped people arriving—it has only forced them to take more dangerous routes.
But it has encouraged racists and right wingers—who are now demanding even more repression.
Many migrants in Calais want to come to Britain because they have family here or because they speak English. Others don’t want to stay in France because they’ve experienced racism there.
Why shouldn’t these people be allowed to come to Britain?
The Tories and those at the top of society try and scapegoat migrants for lack of housing, pressure on services and low pay. Migrants have caused none of these things.
The real problem is Tory austerity and bosses’ attacks. It’s the rich who are a drain on our resources, not migrants.
There is plenty of money to fund decent services, jobs and homes for everyone.
And there is more than enough room and resources for refugees to be welcomed into Britain.
Socialist Worker believes that everyone should have the right to move freely across the world. We should demand that the government lets in all the refugees.
Anti-racism activists organise solidarity
Activists are organising in their workplaces, colleges and towns and cities to build on the 1,500-strong Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) conference that took place earlier this month.
Trade unionists have been taking the message into their workplaces with stalls, petitions and badges.
Liz, a Unison union member at Camden council in central London, helped to organise a lunchtime stall in her workplace.
“We got permission from the council to do a union stall campaigning around racism,” she told Socialist Worker in a personal capacity. “We had seven union stewards doing it right by where people have to go for lunch.
“People were really pleased to see the union campaigning around racism. They left their details and we collected £60 for the badges.”
Workers in Camden council planned to hold another stall this Tuesday.
Sam, a health worker in east London, is building a Stand Up To Racism group in her workplace. “I got a core of people who want to get involved through doing stalls in the hospital canteen,” she told Socialist Worker.
“Now we’re going for a workplace meeting and we’re also looking to link up with students in the area.”
Activists are also building local SUTR groups, with a number of areas planning public meetings.
Dozens of people met in Cambridge on Monday night and left enthused to hold local SUTR activities. The meeting was introduced by the Labour mayor of Cambridge and the leader of the council also came.
In Cardiff activists held a local organising meeting last Thursday.
Jeff Hurford from the group told Socialist Worker, “We had four people come off the back of the demo to let in child refugees last Saturday and they all wanted to help build the group.
“People have got involved in organising a music event, a rally and organising refugee solidarity.”