Closure of the jungle: the rights of people must not be kicked out
In announcing yesterday, September 16th, the “closure” of the ‘Jungle’ next week, the French Immigration Minister Eric Besson turns a blind eye to the massive violations of human rights in countries from which migrants originate, and the extreme precarity of their living conditions. The Minister must not delude himself: to proclaim the “closure” of the ‘Jungle’ simply means to make invisible a problem which will persist, repeat itself and take place elsewhere. The inability of French and European authorities to apprehend correctly and in a coordinated fashion this situation will have a cost: the disgraceful conditions in which migrants and asylum seekers are forced to live, despite the daily assistance of many volunteers.
The minister has already scored points with his announcements in recent months: indeed, as he today says “there were about 700 people three months ago, now there are approximately 300”. Hundreds of these people, real men, women, children, have been scared into continuing their wandering to new places, new countries, and therefore are faced with new challenges and new violations of their rights.
To justify himself, the minister puts forward the “very sharp rise in crime in the Calais region”, “attacks on the inhabitants of Calais” and says that “companies can no longer work normally’. This does not correspond to the observations of organisations working on the ground. Rather than providing solutions to the real causes of this situation, the minister chooses to scape-goat “migrant-asylum seeker”, presented as a dangerous and delinquent person, and this under the guise of tackling smuggling.
Today, as with every announcement, the minister hides that these migrants he wants to displace come from countries where violations of human rights are massive, which explains their desperate flight, and their acceptance of such precarious conditions of life.
Whilst in July the minister spoke of 36 asylum seekers ‘allowed to stay’, he said today that 170 applications have been recorded since January 1st with residence permits and accommodation. These are the figures recorded by the organisations: many of these people, having passed through Greece and Italy and forced to burn off their fingerprints to avoid being deported, receiver neither the one nor the other.
How could Eritreans accept a “voluntary” return to their country? Why would Afghans or Sudanese accept, under a European text, Dublin II, their transfer to Greece , regularly denounced and condemned for repeated abuse and bad treatment of asylum seekers and migrants in general?
Tomorrow, Eric Besson goes to Greece , but unfortunately not to agree on the suspension of transfers to this country where the asylum system is regularly denounced by the UNHCR and the Council of Europe. In fact, this visit is announced “in the context of France ‘s efforts to strengthen the policy against illegal immigration.”
A politics that respects rights must have the courage to see that European policy is failing. The French authorities are losing an opportunity to open and to open our eyes on the human tragedy hidden these situations. Our organisations demand once again for the withdrawal or at least the revision the Dublin II regulation, which creates more victims than it brings solutions.
To end the Law of the ‘jungle’, you must put the European asylum system on its feet and stop denying the needs of individuals for protection and providing a mechanism that enables them to seek asylum in the country of their choice or where they have familial, linguistic or cultural ties. Whatever their choice, we must also ensure their reception conditions are consistent with the dignity of people by providing accommodation facilities open to all.