In a trend that appears to be spreading across Europe [see: Patras post], news has leaked of plans to destroy the biggest Jungle in Calais next Tuesday 21st July. Back in January Eric Besson, the French Immigration Minister, declared his ambition to effectively make Calais and the surrounding area a migrant-free zone come the summer.
A start has already been made with the bulldozing of migrant camps up the coast from Calais court orders being secured for the clearing and demolition of a number of squats in Calais itself. Now the main Afghan squat on the dunes near the port area is due to be cleared and, it is to be assumed, the Afghans detained prior to attempts to deport them back to Afghanistan on a mooted joint French-Belgian-Dutch deportation flight. This would swiftly be followed by the dismantling of the rest of the camps and squats in the area.
Interestingly, the French and UK governments had been in discussions recently to resume a joint deportation flight project that had previous failed to get off the ground last November when French human rights activists won a decision in the European Court of Human Rights against the "collective expulsion of foreigners". It remains to be seen whether the French government ignore that decision and go ahead with a deportation flight. If not, then the already overcrowded French detention centres will be unable to hold many of the migrants, many of whom have no documentation and whose country of origin it would be impossible to determine.
The other options open to the French government are:
- persuade the migrants to apply for asylum in France, except almost all want to go on to the UK and recent attempts by the UNHCR to get them to do this have shown a distinct lack of enthusiasm on the migrants' part;
- remove them to a 'Safe Third Country' i.e. the first 'safe' European country they entered, in the case of Afghans this is likely to be Greece but Greece has a tacit understanding with other EU countries that 'illegals' will not be returned there and even if they were they are unlikely to find much of a welcome;
- or just do what they did when they forced the closure of the Red Cross centre at Sangatte - nothing and just hope the situation goes away. Except that it wont until the 'push factors' are removed. [See: previous posts]
However much the French and other EU governments make it know to the world at large that (the wrong sort of) foreigners are not wanted in the EU, even if they don't go as far as Nick Griffin's own version of waterboarding and simulate drownings of 'illegals', the 'problem' is not going to go away. In fact, Besson is just like the little Dutch boy of legend who sticks his finger in a hole in the dyke to prevent a leak and saves the day. Except this is not leak and no matter how many fingers the EU uses to put in holes in the dyke of Fortress Europe the flood (to borrow a particularly pernicious image from the racists) will not be held back.