UNHCR comments on Calais

Situation in Calais ‘overall improved’ according to Wilbert van Hovell. I’m afraid we totally disagree with such a grotesque statement. It is also worth remarking that the representatives of UNHCR in Calais have been meeting with the sub-prefect and local authorities but they are not saying a word about the human rights of the refugees – or ‘migrants’ according to the term they want to use.

?While the french newspaper ‘North Coast’ (below) has rather emphasized critical aspects of the vision of UNHCR on the situation in the Calais, another french newspaper ‘la Voix du Nord’ insists on the complacency of the UNHCR regarding French government, with a validation of ‘voluntary’ returns.
Do not forget that the UNHCR is the global specialist in such returns for which the freedom of most ‘volunteers’ begins with a strong twist of the arm. See Report of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), of June 24, 2009, entitled ‘HRCP QUESTIONS VOLUNTARY NATURE OF REFUGEES’ REPATRIATION’ (http://www.hrcp-web.org/Publications/RRefugees.pdf) about repatriations of Afghan exiles settled in Pakistan (2 million)

‘la Voix du Nord’ (France), 19 novembre 2009
Wilbert Van Hovell, the High Commissioner for Refugees : ‘ La situation des migrants a Calais s’est globalement amelioree ‘
<<The situation of migrants in Calais has overall improved>>
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees has been in place in Calais for six months. His issue: coordinate international action for the protection of refugees in order to protect their rights and their well being. Wilbert Van Hovell, regional representative for Western Europe in Brussels, recalled yesterday their local players. Bilan.

– The good points

‘ Since the end of the ‘jungle’, we have observed that the number of migrants in Calais has diminshed, that is a positive point’, assured Wilbert Van Hovell who has met with the associations, the council, the police, the sub-prefect ‘ The work of preventing any new squat plays in favour of this fall (in numbers). We think it fell from 1 000 to 250 people. The situation has improved since October and aid is always accssible to migrants… it’s good.’ According to him the distribution centre on Rue de Moscsou improves the living conditions of these persons in transit, ‘ and it’s a good thing. Furthermore, the Mayor has made available premises for a cold weather plan. This is positive… ‘ In effect the sub prefect of Calais is offering from now on the possibility of walk-up asylum claims Le fait que la sous-prefecture de Calais offre desormais la possibilite d’effectuer des demarches pour les demandes d’asile ‘ porte ses fruits. The number of demands (for asylum) have declined and there are a number who have opted for a voluntary return to their countries ‘. For this representative of the UNHCR, international action against the networks of people smugglers is also a good thing.

– Copie a revoir

‘ Locally, there is a lack of structures to welcome minors in transit, a structure with housing, a translator, in order to offer them an opening, explanations, a welcome… as well as to adults who make the journey to ask for asylum. There are some people who present themselves to the authorities, it’s not obviou, they must be helped. In countries like Belgium, migrants in this sitiuation can wait in welcome centres.’

– Unresolved problem

For Wilbert Van Hovell, there are less migrants in Calais, ‘ it’s probably because they have been displaced elsewhere. This indicates that the problem of immigration won’t be any more resolved on an international level’. In the north Pas-de-Calais, en Belgium, the Low Countries… the figures aren’t known, but it appears that migrants no longer consider Calais to be the only landing point north of Paris.

– The charter flights? What does the representative from Brussels think of the debate in France aboout organising charters?

‘ We are in favour of returns to countries (of origin), it’s a good thing to keep the integrity of the asylum system. There are steps you can take, they’re not successful, then you’ll be returned. But I am not in favour of returns to countries in a state of war and it’s a good thing that the state has suspended these expulsions. We advise waiting. The rest, they are voluntary returns’.

http://www.lavoixdunord.fr/Locales/Calais/actualite/ /Secteur_Calais/2009/11/19/article_apres-la-jungle-la-situati ion-des-migran.shtml