We, associations engaged daily with migrants, are convinced that the government plan to destroy jungles is ineffective and exacerbates the situation.
Smashing the shelters causes the scattering of camps, delivering migrants into the hands of criminal networks and does not settle anything at all . It is persisting in the error of 2002 (the closure of the Sangatte camp).
Since the speech of Mr. Besson at Calais in April, the visible number of migrants in Calais has fallen. Some went to England. Few were those able to apply for asylum in France. Most have fled the Police threats to Belgium and Holland, the others were scattered into nature. Forced to hide, they are more vulnerable than ever, without access to health care and food and delivered, against their will, into the only law of the mafias.
What will happen to those who are arrested in the coming days? Deported to their country of origin? Released into the wild without any information or help? Returned to Italy or Greece where the living conditions of refugees are dramatic?
The government offers assistance for voluntary return to countries at war and dictatorships. How many will agree to return to Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Eritrea … Knowing that in addition either voluntary return or forced return to some of these countries will prove diplomatically impossible ?
The government communicates a lot about the tradition of asylum in France but a small part of migrants had the opportunity to seek asylum. Most are prevented by the European Dublin II Regulation that France applies with zeal, without using the power it has to suspend its application. Since last April, only 170 asylum applications were filed in the sub-prefecture of Calais. Only 50 of them will be processed. The other applicants were sent back to the jungle and can be arrested at any moment and be deported by force, mainly to Italy and Greece where the living conditions of refugees are dramatic. In Greece, access to asylum is virtually impossible.
Mr Barrot, the European Commissioner for Human Rights has condemned the recent failures of EU policy on asylum.
It is necessary that the European states no longer abdicate responsibility to their neighbours. European solidarity must become a reality. The Dublin II Regulation has to change, it traps the refugees in a deadlock and leaves them unprotected.
To break the ‘law of the jungle’, we must put the European asylum system on its feet in stopping the denial of the protection needs of individuals and providing a mechanism enabling them to seek asylum in the country of their choice or where they have family, linguistic or cultural ties. Whatever their choice, we must also ensure their reception conditions consistent with the dignity of people by providing accommodation facilities open to all.
Calais, September 21, 2009
Joint Statement of organizations: La Belle Etoile, French Coalition for the Right of Asylum, GISTI, Secours Catholique, C’sur ,Salam, Migrants Fraternity Collective (Angres), Terres D’errances Norrent-Fontes, Terres D’errances Steenvoorde, Calais migrants Solidarity, The Exiles of 10 ° (Paris), The Ligue de Droits de L’homme (Pas-de-Calais Regional Federation), Medecins du Monde, Cimade, the Greens, NPA Calais, Amnesty International