Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Footnote to MailWatch #3

We spoke too soon! A day after the MailWatch #3 post flagging up the lack of Calais migrants stories in the past week or so, up pops the Mail with a bit of barrel-scraping in a revisit of its 'Migrant hid in Border Agency bus to reach UK... and twenty immigration officers failed to spot him' story.

'Stowaway express: Border agency coach waved through every day could have brought hundreds of illegals into UK' trumpeted the headline of a story yesterday claiming that a "source close to the Border Agency" had told it that the coach in question was "a 'magnet for illegals' trying to sneak into the UK" and that it "could have provided a route for hundreds of illegal immigrants into Britain."

The paper did miss one trick however. After claiming that 2 hiding places, each big enough for 2 people, had been discovered under the coach and that it has "been ferrying border officers between Folkestone and Coquelles, at the Channel Tunnel entrance near Calais, for 365 days a year since 2006", it could have calculated that potentially more than 4,300 'illegals' could have entered the country via this route (allowing for the odd day when only one migrant chose to take advantage of the "secret hiding place" that the Mail's informant thought might have "been common knowledge among illegals for years").*

Oddly, the paper chose to illustrate the article with a new Calais migrants photo, courtesy of Reuters suggesting that their photographer had indeed been scared off (see MailWatch #2 & 'Bloody siege of Calais'), captioned 'Asylum seekers wait outside a medical tent near Calais. Authorities believe illegal immigrants may have been using the coaches to get into the UK for years'** What the paper fails to say is that the migrants are queueing for medical treatment and the chance of a shower and change of clothes as part of an attempt to combat an outbreak of scabies amongst the migrants brought on by the appalling conditions they are forced to live in. [See: 1, 2]

Calais authorities have systematically thwarted attempts to either refurbish or replace the already inadequate provision of showers by the charity Secours Catholique and the only source of water for the main Jungles in the east of Calais, which has only recently been installed after a prolonged period of pressure from the local humanitarian associations, is routinely contaminated by the CRS with tear gas when they are not being otherwise physically prevented from using it. On top of that what few clothes the migrants may have are destroyed by the police in their routine destruction of living structures. No wonder scabies is rife amongst a poorly fed and traumatised population forced to live in unsanitary conditions in their desire to make a better life for themselves, something we all desire for ourselves and those we care about.

* Strange isn't it that the day that only one migrant chose to make the trip was the day that the route ended up being discovered?
** It is their 'informant' that suggests this and the Head of Border Force for the UK Border Agency, Brodie Clark, interviewed in the article suggests nothing of the sort.

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