Socialist Worker

Theresa May’s Calais border deal has made suffering worse

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans in Calais
Issue No. 2591

The refugee camp today near the site of the previous jungle

The refugee camp today near the site of the previous "jungle" (Pic: Socialist Worker)


Tory prime minister Theresa May's £45 million pound deal to bolster security in Calais is making life harder for refugees trapped at Britain's border.

Hanat, a 17-year old refugee from Somalia, lives alongside around 250 others near the former site of the bulldozed “jungle” refugee camp.

“Every single day the police come and rip up our tents,” he told Socialist Worker. “Every single day we have to run away from the police's tear gas.”

Abshir, another Somali refugee, told Socialist Worker, “It's so difficult to explain in words the police brutality, they use tear gas and pepper spray and beat us with sticks.Police brutality is the most difficult thing here.”

Harsh police brutality in recent weeks comes on top of refugees having to get through the winter weather. Hanat explained, “There are five of us sleeping in each tent, it's not comfortable but it's the only way we can keep warm."

Hanat, a 17 year old refugee from Somalia

Hanat, a 17 year old refugee from Somalia (Pic: Socialist Worker)


The right wing press has slammed the Anglo/French deal as “ill judged” because it caused refugees to “overrun Calais”.

It involved more money for fencing, intensified policing and other methods to repel refugees, plus the vague promise of allowing some more child refugees into Britain.

There is plenty of repression, no entry for child refugees.

Solomo, who fled Ethiopia, has been in Calais for three months but he's not a new refugee. “I was in Calais in 2014, I got on a lorry an ended up in Poland,” he told Socialist Worker.

“I was detained for two months when I got there, then I worked in a bakery for three years.

“But they don't want black people there so I had to leave. I was coming home from work once and they were shouting, ‘black, black, black’.

“They beat me, knocked these teeth out and cut me—I had to leave.”

The student delegation to Calais

The student delegation to Calais (Pic: Socialist Worker)


The refugees trapped at Britain's border in Calais are fleeing the West's wars, dictatorship and poverty. “I was in and out of prison in Somalia, because the government accused me of being part of Al Shabab,” said Hanat.

Abshir added, "I had to leave Ethiopia—it's a dictatorship."

Around 1,300 refugees slept in snow-covered tents every night in Paris in early February

Around 1,300 refugees slept in snow-covered tents every night in Paris in early February (Pic: Care4Calais)


Over 100 trade unionists, students and campaigners from across Britain brought solidarity to refugees and funds for Care4Calais on Sunday as part of a Stand Up To Racism (SUTR) delegation.

Khaled Moyeed, the BAME officer for the Labour Party in Tottenham, was part of a 12 strong delegation from north London. “The government is turning its back on refugees, many of whom are fleeing conflicts that are sometimes the direct result of British foreign policy,” he said.

“In Yemen the British government is supporting Saudis Arabia's bombardments.

“We need to change the foreign policy. And the government needs to respect its obligations under the refugee convention and not abdicate its responsibility to help refugees.

“We should not give in to the right wing narrative sweeping across Europe.”

Clare Moseley from Care4Calais told a meeting of the solidarity delegation, “Britain is complicit in what happens in Calais.”

The only long term solution is to open the border.

Stand Up To Racism is organising anti-racist demonstrations on Saturday 17 March in London, Cardiff and Glasgow. London assemble 12 noon Portland Place, Cardiff 12.30pm Grange Gardens, Glasgow 11am Holland Street.

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