The French left is leading the attack on the government’s dismantling of the Calais “jungle” for immigrants. The Socialists have called it “totally inhuman”, but the immigration minister Eric Besson said he was more concerned about depriving people traffickers of their vital end-station.
“Our aim was not to arrest as many migrants as possible by surprising them at daybreak, but to destroy a hub of human trafficking,” he said.
Human rights groups say while its right to fight the criminals exploiting immigrants, too many migrants get caught in the crossfire.
Myriam Rachih of Catholic Aid said: “There were migrants crying, sobbing, because they don’t want to leave. In any case we know perfectly well they’ll be back, even the police know that. They’ll come back. You can move them on to displace the problem, but the problem’s still there.”
The Channel is the final obstacle; cross it and they believe housing, work, and education and health benefits are theirs for the taking in the UK. There is no going back from Calais for these people.
“What is absolutely outrageous is the way the French government, and indeed other governments across Europe have attempted to wash their hands of this issue. They’ve engaged in a sort of grotesque game of human pass-the-parcel with these refugees, without actually bringing them into their own countries’ immigration asylum systems and without giving them the support they require,” said Dan Hodges of Refugee Action Group.
Britain’s Interior Minister Alan Johnson praised the French for their “speedy and firm” attitude to closing the “jungle”, and said it was proof joint tougher border controls at Calais, decided at Evian earlier in the year, were working.