By Dave Sewell
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2477

European rulers try to buy time with fresh clampdown on refugees

This article is over 6 years, 2 months old
Issue 2477
Conditions in the jungle in Calais are deteriorating
Conditions in the ‘jungle’ in Calais are deteriorating (Pic: Guy Smallman)

French cops cracked down on refugees in Calais last week. They arrested at least 150 people and flew them to detention centres hundreds of miles away.

The authorities said they would look into the possibility of deporting them. 

Refugees detained on previous smaller raids had to be released. They were given no help afterwards and had no choice but to return to Calais.

Police also blocked off the entrances to the “jungle” shantytown where up to 6,000 refugees live in appalling conditions. 

Activists bringing aid will need a named invitation from Calais charities to get in.

This is an attempt to thwart solidarity from activists in Britain and Belgium. A group of Birmingham teachers were the latest delegation to Calais last Saturday.

The clampdown followed a visit from French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve.

Along with 600 extra cops, he announced the provision of “heated tents”. 

These are part of the risible humanitarian response that two charities tried to sue the government over this week.But his main aim was to stop the refugees from organising.

Cops in Paris also evicted hundreds of migrants squatting in an abandoned college on Friday of last week.

The far right has taken its cue from the state. 

Fascists supported by the local mayor occupied a building in the village of St Genis last Saturday. 


It was destined to shelter Roma families—unrelated to the refugee crisis. Their banner read, “St Genis will not become Calais”.

This follows large protests by  the Islamophobic group Pegida in Germany and an arson attack on an asylum centre in Sweden earlier this month. 

But a European Union (EU) “mini-summit” last Sunday reaffirmed that the anti-migrant agenda is being driven from the very top. 

Governments of “core” EU countries pushed for “reception centres” to keep up to 100,000 refugees in Greece and other Balkan countries. 

Plans to keep people in camps are not about helping them. The plan is intended to buy governments time to reinforce their borders and stem the flow of people into Austria and Germany.

The refugees’ numbers and determination—and fears over the cold weather—forced Croatia’s government to lift a short-lived border closure last week. 

The project to keep refugees out of Europe continues to kill. A man, woman and two children drowned crossing the Aegean Sea between Greece and Turkey in two separate incidents last weekend.

And there were horrific scenes in Libya as 40 dead bodies washed ashore on Saturday. Another 30 passengers from their capsized boat were missing.

As long as governments such as Britain’s keep fighting to keep refugees locked down and out, the deaths will continue.

Organising solidarity

Activists reported back from a Stand Up to Racism (SUTR) solidarity delegation to Calais at meetings last week. 

Around 50 people joined a fundraiser in Manchester last Saturday. 

Student Bethan Turner said, “No one would risk their lives to try and claim what’s left of Britain’s housing benefit. We should let them in.”

Bev Costello from Salford had set up an event in her local pub, raising over £500.

“It’s been very, very heartening and inspiring,” she said. 

On the same day police clashed with pro-refugee protesters in London St Pancras train station.

SUTR activists are building for rallies in London and Birmingham on Wednesday of next week. London—7pm, Camden Centre, WC1H 9JE. Birmingham—7pm, The Priory Rooms, B4 6AF

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