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French cops crack down on migrants

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Issue 2633
Refugees in Calais try to keep warm
Refugees in Calais try to keep warm (Pic: Guy Smallman)

French cops have stepped up attempts to clear 1,500 refugees trapped at Britain’s border in Calais, northern France.

Statistics from refugee solidarity groups published last week showed the police organised 78 camp clearances in October and 77 in September.

Simon Shaw, an NEU education union rep and teacher from east London, was volunteering in Calais last weekend.

“There had been a clearance at 2am the night before we came,” he told Socialist Worker.

“The conditions are awful and cold in Calais.”

There has been another increase in refugee numbers. Simon said, “Just as we were leaving another 200 people arrived so we had to dash back to the warehouse and do another distribution.

“The CRS riot police have been concentrating on the Yellow Vest movement, so refugees have been using it as an opportunity to cross the channel.”

Stand Up To Racism and Care4Calais have organised another solidarity delegation for this weekend.

It will bring vital supplies and donations.

But it is also about raising political solidarity and building a movement that can force the Tories to open the border and let the refugees in.

Hundreds protest to close Yarl’s Wood refugee prison

Yarls Wood detention centre
Yarl’s Wood detention centre (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Hundreds of people gathered outside Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre in Bedfordshire last Saturday.

They were protesting in solidarity with women detainees on hunger strike.

Around 40 women began the strike on Tuesday night of last week in protest over a deportation flight to Nigeria.

Fidelia from Bolivia spoke to Black Women’s Rape Action Project (BWRAP), which coordinates support for the women hunger strikers.

“I came to the UK for safety as my life was threatened by drug gangs after I spoke out,” she said. “I’ve been in the UK for over 11 years. I’m a cancer survivor and I need to see a specialist but all I’ve been given is paracetamol.

“I’ve been held here for seven months for no reason.”

One person inside the detention centre told the Detained Voices website, “Anywhere I go, you’ll see officers following me. They came to my room yesterday.

“They search through my luggage, I don’t know what they are searching for. They know everything we are doing.”

Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott pledged that a Labour government would close Yarl’s Wood and Brook House centres, and end indefinite detention.

Anti-racists should demand Labour shut down all the detention centres, end deportations and give asylum seekers indefinite leave to remain.

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