Wednesday, 1 July 2009

UNHCR Returns To Calais

In a move that appears to herald the agency taking on the role of the 'good cop' to the International Organisation for Migration's 'bad cop', the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has announced that it is formally establishing a full-time office in Calais. The UNHCR had previously operated in the Calais area when the Sangatte Red Cross centre was open and had returned in June to work alongside France Terre d'Asile, a French migrant support organisation working allowed to work in detention centres.

Part of their new remit seems to be to take over the propaganda program that the IOM had been operating recently, painting as dark a picture of the chances of the migrants getting to the UK, and of getting a job and surviving here, even if they managed to get across the Channel. This would then allow the IOM to pursue their main task, offering migrants financial inducements to get them to return to their country of origin. However the way this operates often leaves no real alternative for the migrants other than accepting the offer as the IOM work in the French detention centres, and if their offer is not accepted the migrants are deported anyway.

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