Monday, August 29, 2016

Replacing inertia with action

It was good to see the jungle leading BBC news bulletins today and with none of the hysteria, hype and hogwash of the tabloid news papers.

In particular the beeb highlighted comments by the president of the Calais region suggesting that migrants in the camp in Calais be allowed to claim asylum close by in France.This is a view that is gaining traction in the country with two of the candidates for next year's presidential election also weighing in in favour of changes to the Le Touquet treaty.

Tomorrow our new home secretary is visiting her French counterpart in Paris. It is to be hoped that this issue will be on their agenda. Of course, we know the UK government's view. That was put to the beeb by a former ambassador who trotted out the line the government has been spinning for the past two years - handling things differently in Calais will act as a magnet. This is unlikely given the tiny proportion of refugees heading for the jungle compared the numbers going north to Germany and Scandanavia.

Instead the UK government thinks spending upwards of £60m on fencing and other security enhancements (which is the cost of the CRS in the camp) is the sensible choice.It is also wedded to the Le Touquet agreement whereby the UK was moved to Calais and the French one to Dover in a bid to quell the 'illegal' movement of people across the border. It hasn't worked.

And the people of Calais are fed up of living in what is increasingly feeling like a prison such is the rash of razor wire topped creeping across the city, shielding various sites from the migrants.

So they are beginning to ask what does the Le touquet treaty give them? And the answer is not much. It certainly isn't doing anything for the refugees living in increasingly squalid and overcrowded conditions in the jungle.

And the answer would seem to lie in the UK giovernment having a little immagination and making it possible for those in the camp to claim asylum in the UK. If they have a strong claim, then ship them to the country to be properly assessed. If they don't, then tell them that even if they can make their way into the country, they will not be able to claim asylum and will be returned to the first place they set foot on European soil. n that way, it wouldn't be a magnet; it would be a more humane response than the inertia that is currently our government's policy.