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Refugees clash with police after Grande-Synthe fire leaves hundreds homeless

Issue No. 2550

When the Calais jungle was cleared last year police were again brought in

When the Calais jungle was cleared last year police were again brought in, clashes have recently erupted in the Grande-Synthe camp after a fire (Pic: AmirahBreen)

Hundreds of refugees made homeless by a recent fire at the Grande-Synthe refugee camp near Dunkirk in northern France clashed with police last week.

Around 1,500 people had lived in Grande-Synthe.

They were housed in an overcrowded gym afterwards, and some were bussed to accommodation elsewhere in the region. But refugees tried to return to the remains of the camp, saying the sports centre was even worse.

Many feared being taken further away from the border, which they are trying to cross to join relatives in Britain.

Meanwhile in Calais, just months after French authorities demolished the “jungle” and Britain’s Tories built a Donald Trump-style wall, hundreds are again sleeping rough.

The Grande-Synthe fire started following clashes between Kurdish and Iraqi gangs, and some coverage has attempted to blame the refugees for their own lot. But Andy Brown, a teacher who this month took aid supplies to Grande Synthe, said this was wrong.

He told a vigil outside Downing Street called by Help4RefugeeChildren and Stand Up to Racism last week, “The blame lies with those who created the conditions the refugees are in.

“There is a very simple way out—what they need is a safe, legal and dignified way to get out of that situation and enter Britain immediately.”

‘EU states turn a blind eye’ as refugees are left to drown

Nearly 100 refugees are missing, probably drowned, after their boat sank off the Libyan capital Tripoli last week.

Many refugees have drowned making the crossing from their homes

Many refugees have drowned making the crossing from their homes (Pic: Kelly Lynn)

One charity, Migrant Offshore Aid Station, found at least 20 dead bodies in the water.

Another, Doctors Without Borders (MSF), found a dead teenager in a boat.

In a weekend where thousands of people were rescued trying to cross into Europe, MSF accused the European Union (EU) border force Frontex of staying away.

“We are where we’re needed, what’s the EU doing meanwhile?” it tweeted.

“EU states keep their blind eyes turned.”

The EU’s border controls are what force refugees to risk their lives at sea to try and find a better life.

This year is on course to be the most lethal yet, and only opening the borders can stop the massacre.

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