French authorities announce moderation
The French authorities have announced a moderation of their treatment of migrants who are sleeping rough in Calais. This follows a three week hunger strike by a priest and two activists in the town, and a recent 79 report by Human Rights Watch that accuses the authories of abuse.
Two pledges have been made. The first is to give people 45 minutes to gather their possessions when the police carry out evictions, and to cease ‘surprise’ evictions. If this happens it is a victory for the hunger strikers – currently people often lose all their possessions during evictions including clothes, blankets and even food. As winter approaches these items are essential to warmth and survival.
The second pledge is to house people in accommodation in the northern region of France. The benefit of this is debatable. When similar schemes have been tried in the past they have failed, as the reason that people are in Calais in the first place is that the only way they have to claim asylum in the U.K. is to attempt an illegal channel crossing. They will therefore return to Calais to do this.
The only way to stop people gathering around Calais would be to introduce an alternative way that they are able to make a claim for U.K. asylum without risking their lives on a dangerous channel crossing.
The vast majority of migrants in France actually claim asylum in France. But there are some who have specific reasons to get to the U.K., and these are the ones who come to Calais.