Socialist Worker

Updated - Theresa May’s Calais crackdown means more refugees will die

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2588

Refugees in northern France live in terrible conditions

Refugees in northern France live in terrible conditions - and are harassed by police (Pic: Guy Smallman)


Theresa May has promised £45 million for a fresh clampdown on refugees trapped at Britain’s border in Calais.

The money will go towards making it harder for refugees to cross the border—and will mean more deaths. The prime minister’s announcement came after demands from French president Emmanuel Macron, who was posturing before his trip to Britain this week.

Lara, a Goldsmith’s University student who recently visited refugees in Calais, told Socialist Worker, “It’s appalling that they’re spending money on stopping people from having a better life.

“Refugees should be treated as human beings”.

Some 1,500 refugees are trapped around Calais and Dunkirk in northern France after their “jungle” refugee camp was bulldozed in autumn 2016. They suffer police repression, harsh weather conditions—and the risk of death if they try to get to Britain.

Lara was part of Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) and Care4Calais south east London delegation to Calais last December. “I was expecting to see people living in appalling conditions, but it was overwhelming,” she said

“Police raid the refugees every couple of weeks. They use pepper spray, which means they can’t use the sleeping bags and tents the following night.”

Devastation

Many of the refugees in Calais are fleeing the devastation of the West’s imperialist wars in the Middle East. They have had to make the hazardous passage across the Mediterranean.

Refugees are forced to take more dangerous routes by the European Union’s (EU) racist “Fortress Europe” policy.

Lara said, “I’m a migrant myself, the only different between me and them is that I have a European passport.”

Meanwhile, St Stephen’s Primary School in Newham in east London has lifted a ban on the hijab for girls under the age of eight.

Arif Qawi, the chair of the board of governors who supported the ban, also resigned last week.

A petition, started by a Muslim teenager in east London, gained a lot of support.

The Tories and schools inspectorate Ofsted have created a climate of Islamophobia in schools, primarily through their racist “Prevent” strategy.

Activists are planning another delegation to Calais the day after the SUTR Trade Union Conference on 10 February. Lara said, “We’re doing stalls at railway station to raise collections and awareness, more people need to know about it.

The delegations aren’t just about charity, but about building solidarity with refugees and a mass movement against racism. That’s why anti-racists are building to SUTR rallies in the run up to national demonstrations in London, Glasgow and Cardiff on 17 March.

The only solution to the Calais is to open the border—and let the refugees into Britain.

Go to Facebook event Stand Up To Racism Trade Union conference facebook.com/events/282744872215165/ and Students Against Racism national conference https://www.facebook.com/events/955768344576714/ co-hosted by Student SUTR and Mend.
 

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