Socialist Worker

The death toll of the border grows

by Dave Sewell
Issue No. 2557

Part of the Sahara desert in Niger. No-one knows how many refugees have died crossing it to Libya or Algeria

Part of the Sahara desert in Niger. No-one knows how many refugees have died crossing it to Libya or Algeria (Pic: Flickr/Dan Lundberg)


Days before the election Britain’s border controls killed again. Kim, a Vietnamese refugee, killed himself in a French hospital last Wednesday.

He had been stuck in a camp at Angres, near Lens, where refugees try to jump into the back of lorries to get into Britain.

Harsh government policies have removed any safe, legal route, forcing people to risk their lives.

Kim is the fourth known death at Britain’s border with France this year. Two people died in road accidents and a third was electrocuted on the roof of a train.

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Local campaign Migrants Fraternity Collective pointed to “the solitude of migrants, whether in hospital or in prison”.

Its collection for Kim’s funeral expenses raised £1,300 by Tuesday—a reminder of the solidarity that exists despite racist scapegoating.

Elsewhere the border claims even more lives.

Desert

At least 44 people died in Africa’s Sahara desert in Niger last week, including children.

Survivors said they died of thirst trying to reach Europe.

The refugees, mostly from Nigeria and Ghana, were on their way to Libya.

Most sub-Saharan African refugees have to cross the desert before reaching the Mediterranean crossing to Europe. No one knows how many die there.

The deaths in Niger were only reported because six refugees survived to reach the town of Agadez.

In the barren Sahara they could have disappeared without a trace.

For those who survive the desert, the rise in mass drownings in the Mediterranean Sea offers little hope.

The estimated death rate on the crossing soared to 2.3 percent in this year so far. It was 1.2 percent in the first five months of last year.

No one should have to risk their lives to make a journey that could be done safely.

The deaths are inevitable consequences of attempts by European governments and the European Union (EU) to block refugees from Europe.

Britain’s Tories have been at the forefront. David Cameron was among the key movers of an EU deal with Turkey to deport refugees from Greece.

Britain takes part in EU and Nato operations to stop refugees leaving Libya.

The Italian government is also leading a push to extend the operations’ reach into Niger.

Stand Up To Racism has called for a day of post-election mobilisations on Saturday, including demands to welcome refugees.


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