Socialist Worker

EU abandons refugees to freeze to death

Issue No. 2536

Winter conditions in the Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesvos on Saturday

Winter conditions in the Moria camp on the Greek island of Lesvos on Saturday (Pic: Medecins Sans Frontieres)


Refugees on the Greek island of Lesvos had their thin summer tents covered in snow this week, as a deadly cold spell swept across Europe.

Thousands are trapped there by a European Union (EU) deal with Turkey—and a Greek government dragging its feet on providing decent homes.

The Doctors Without Borders charity revealed that French cops were confiscating blankets from the hundreds who sleep rough in Paris after being driven from the Calais “jungle”.

Across Europe there are more than 11 million empty homes, yet people are driven to sleep rough. The result is death. One of the estimated 15 to 20 rough sleepers in Liverpool died on Thursday of last week.

And cruel border policies mean that refugees are among the most vulnerable.

Two Iraqi men and a Somali woman froze to death in Bulgaria crossing the mountains from Turkey. It followed the death from hypothermia of an Afghan man crossing the Evros river at Greece’s border.

Some 19 people including five children were hospitalised with hypothermia after being abandoned in the back of a lorry in Bavaria, southern Germany.

Migrants continue to resist —and many Europeans want to help them.

Refugees in an Italian detention centre rioted last week after the death of a woman from the Ivory Coast.

And up to 300 people rallied in support of a French farmer on trial for helping migrants cross the border.

At an inquest into a death in the back of a lorry from Calais last year, coroner Christopher Morris concluded last week, “I’m unable to record a name for the deceased gentleman—a poignant tragedy given he was probably somebody’s brother, son and friend.”

But it’s a tragedy that will keep being repeated until refugees are welcomed to safety.


Building the movement on the streets against racism

Protests are planned in 20 towns and cities across Britain on Friday 20 January as Donald Trump is inaugurated US president, including outside the US embassy in London.

These are called by Stand Up To Racism against Trump’s racist and sexist policies and his support for hard right groups. They are backed by other organisations including the Campaign Against Climate Change against his climate change denial.

These local protests are part of a programme of anti-racist activism building towards the mass demonstrations on 18 March.

The next key date for the anti-racist movement will be the Stand Up To Racism trade union conference on Saturday 4 February.

The TUC has contacted all its member unions asking them to send delegates to the conference, and anti-racist activists are bringing groups from their workplaces.

As well as the protests on Friday night, other actions have been called including a Women’s March on Saturday 21 January in solidarity with one taking place that day in Washington DC.

For details go to bit.ly/2i8MO9a

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