As the European Parliament debated the situation in Calais this evening, French MEP, Marie-Christine Vergiat, stated:

“In 1989, everyone welcomed the fall of the Berlin Wall. Today, new walls are being constructed across Europe and elsewhere.”

“Calais is symbolic: since 2000, barbed wire fences have been erected around the port and they have endlessly been made taller and wider. Today even more fences are being constructed and the refugee camp will be dismantled for the third time.

“I have been to Calais. I have met the men, women and children there. I have heard their testimonies, their life stories and their distress.

“If they make a claim for asylum in France, they must wait for many weeks knowing that the rate of acceptance of asylum claims in France is among the lowest in Europe.

“Calais is not a Franco-Britannic affair. European rights – imperfect as they may be – are being violated, especially for the unaccompanied children. It is up to humanity as a whole to support the needs of the men, women and children in Calais.

“The politics of security come at a cost. One police officer for every five migrants. Yet, how many are employed to welcome them? How many would it take to ensure that the right to dignity and humanity would finally be respected?”

Swedish MEP, Malin Björk, also commented:

''France and the UK are building a yet another wall, an anti-migrant barrier, as if more borders would solve this situation.

“It is politically irresponsible and unacceptable not to provide refugees with the safe haven they need. Among these people are hundreds of children waiting to reunite with their families in the United Kingdom.

“The reception conditions in Calais are well below minimum standards, women's safety is put at risk every day as the French authorities are not ensuring gender separated housing.

“There are no excuses for the UK Government to deny them the right to family reunification. Instead of spending money on building more walls, authorities in Calais should spend the money on reception.''

Italian MEP, Barbara Spinelli, added:

“More than half of the unaccompanied minors in the Calais 'Jungle' camp would have the right to join their relatives in the United Kingdom under European law. However, both Paris and London violate these rules. In the past, only 20 minors have benefitted from this possibility.

“I remind you of the story of Raheemullah Oryakhel, a 14 year-old Afghan national who was fatally hit by a truck two weeks ago. He wanted to join his brother in Manchester, legally.

“The refugees represent only 0.2 per cent of the European population, and we act as if it were impossible to add just one table to a school canteen composed of millions of people.

“We shed tears for the children escaping wars, but only if they are dead and possibly also portrayed in photographs spread via international media,” Spinelli concluded.  


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