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Politicians plot a fresh clampdown on refugees

This article is over 8 years, 2 months old
An historic migration of refugees has provoked repression—and resistance, reports?Dave Sewell
Issue 2485
A volunteer comforts a Syrian woman on the Greek island of Lesvos last November
A volunteer comforts a Syrian woman on the Greek island of Lesvos last November (Pic: Guy Smallman)

A two year old boy became the first refugee death of 2016 last Saturday, when his dinghy crashed off a Greek island. At least 19 people were killed on Christmas Eve when their boat sank off Turkey.

Some 26 refugees are now known to have died outside Britain’s border in northern France last year.

More than one million refugees entered Europe by sea last year, according to new figures from the International Organisation for Migration. Some 3,770 of them died.

In Germany alone, government figures show that almost 1.1 million people applied for asylum last year. This is one of the biggest migrations of human history, and it shows no sign of slowing down.

Refugees face European Union (EU) border controls that its member states have built to keep them out.

Even if they get to Europe, their ordeal is far from over.

Under pressure from Britain’s Tories, the French government is building its own facilities in Calais.

Presented as a humanitarian measure, they are designed to make it easier to detain or deport people from the notorious “jungle” shantytown.

Sweden imposed controls on its border with Denmark for the first time since the 1950s on Monday of this week.

Greece has begun to reopen detention centres whose abolition was one of the proudest achievements of the left government elected last January.


But resistance from refugees has inspired widespread solidarity.

There was outrage before Christmas when Denmark’s government announced plans to confiscate jewellery from refugees. The police federation had to say cops couldn’t implement the plan.

In Britain Sudanese migrant Abdul Rahman Haroun had been set to begin trial this week after walking through the Channel Tunnel last August. But prosecutors are now reconsidering after the Home Office granted him refugee status on Christmas Eve.

This followed a letter-writing campaign by South London Stand up to Racism and motions of support from rail workers’ union branches.

Anti-racists from across Greece are set to march on the EU’s border wall later this month, demanding it is lifted to prevent further deaths at sea.

A wave of solidarity with refugees saw collections and delegations to Calais.

In Britain the Stand up to Racism national demonstrations on Saturday 19 March is a crucial opportunity to turn this solidarity into political protest.

Activists will demand the Tories open the door to refugees fleeing war and poverty.

Every activist can call on their union, trades council or local campaign to sponsor coaches and other transport to show solidarity with refugees against repression and racism.

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