In Depth

Refugee crisis: Calais Jungle children 'have nowhere to sleep'

Around 100 youngsters left in refugee camp after French demolition crews tear down tents and shelters

Refugee crisis: Amal Clooney says UK is not doing enough

21 September

Amal Clooney has called on the UK to accept more refugees fleeing the ongoing civil war in Syria.

Speaking to Channel 4 News, the human rights lawyer said Theresa May's government was failing to do enough to help those in need, particularly the minority Yazidi community.  

"I would hope that more could be taken in," she said. "There has been one Yazidi family that has been given asylum so far in the UK."

She added: "You have had a million refugees accepted in Germany in the last year and 70,000 of those have been Yazidis. In every other country it's been literally a handful, so I'm hoping that can improve."

The UK has agreed to accept 20,000 refugees over the next five years, a number many argue is pitiful in comparison to the spectacular scale of the humanitarian crisis.  

During the interview, Clooney also urged the Prime Minister to take a "leadership" role in pressing the United Nations to take urgent action against Islamic State.

The lawyer was speaking alongside her client Nadia Murad, who was kidnapped by Islamic State as a teenager and kept as a sex slave. Clooney is currently collecting evidence to hold the terror group to account over human trafficking and genocide.

"Victims have all said they actually want their day in court," she told Harpers Bazaar. "It's not going to be easy, but we're working on multiple fronts."

Last December, Murad, who is now 23, gave an emotional speech to UN delegates, asking them: "If beheadings, sexual enslavement, the rape of children and the displacement of millions do not force you to act, when will you act?"

Refugee crisis: Is the 'Great Wall of Calais' just a sticking plaster?

7 September

The UK is to fund a new four-metre high wall at Calais to deter migrants from trying to board lorries bound for the UK, immigration minister Robert Goodwill told MPs yesterday.

The £1.9m "Great Wall of Calais" will stretch for one kilometre along both sides of the main approach road to the port and should be ready by the end of the year.

The wall is a response to a change of tactics by people smugglers in the "Jungle" camp outside the town, who have started using tree trunks and other implements to block traffic, says The Times.

But the plans have been branded a waste of money amid claims that they will not stop refugees, says the Daily Express.

The newspaper quotes one Sudanese refugee, going by the name of Erfan, who predicts: "We will find a way over it. I have to go to the UK and I will try anything to get there, even by boat."

That view was echoed by Ukip MEP Mike Hookem, who asked: "How is a short wall going to deter migrants who have travelled in boats the size of sardine tins from reaching the UK?" 

Chris Yarsley of the Freight Transport Association dismissed the wall as "merely a sticking plaster", while French aid worker Francois Guennoc told The Guardian that "people will end up taking more risks".

Security fencing was already strengthened earlier this year, notes KentOnline, with the result that the problem has shifted further away from the port.

Angry truckers blockade Calais Jungle camp in 'escargot' operation

5 September

Truckers and farmers calling for the closure of the so-called Jungle migrant camp outside Calais have blocked off main routes around the town.

Lorries and agricultural vehicles made their way to the port from Dunkirk and Boulogne in what has been dubbed an "escargot" operation – a reference to the snail's pace of the convoy.

The French newspaper Le Monde says drivers travelling in the opposite direction have been tooting their support for the protesters. One member of a human chain protesting at the port carried a banner calling on the French government to declare Calais an area of "economic catastrophe".

Protest organisers say the presence of the camp, which houses around 7,000 people from countries such as Sudan, Syria and Eritrea, is undermining the town.

French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve promised last week to dismantle the Jungle in stages, but drivers and farmers want a definitive date for the closure of what Le Parisien calls France's biggest shantytown. "They can't take it any more – having to brake suddenly on the ring road leading to the port, having to worry about the chance of running a migrant over," it says.

Gangs of people-smugglers have reportedly taken to hurling objects at cars to make them crash, in order to divert attention from refugees stowing away in empty vehicles. "Gangs are paid thousands of pounds by vulnerable people to get them to Calais, from where some are smuggled to Britain to work to pay off huge debts," reports The Guardian.

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail predicts that today's blockade "will cause misery for thousands of Britons returning from holidays". The Foreign Office has warned them to prepare for delays.

Refugees 'as likely to die in English Channel as the Med'

31 May

The former chief inspector of Borders and Immigration has warned refugees trying to cross the English Channel that they are just as likely to die as those crossing the Mediterranean.

John Vine's comments came after 20 people were rescued from an inflatable boat that got into difficulties off the Kent coast.

"We have seen the tragedies that have occurred in the Mediterranean," he said.

"I am not a nautical person, but I would have thought crossing the Channel, with all the hazards in terms of cross-Channel traffic as well as the weather and the sea conditions, are going to mean there is an equal chance of people losing their lives unless this is stopped."

Two British men appeared in court yesterday charged with immigration offences over the incident.

Robert Stilwell, 33, and Mark Stribling, 35, both from Dartford, were accused of people smuggling and "conspiring to facilitate the entry of non-EU nationals" into the UK, reports the Daily Telegraph.

British coastguards were called out before midnight on Saturday, after some of those on board phoned relatives in Calais to say their boat had started taking on water. The group included 18 Albanian migrants, at least two of whom were children.

Earlier last week, a boat carrying Albanian migrants was detained at Chichester Marina while last month, two Iranian men were found floating in a dinghy in the Channel.

"If this is now the start of a new trend we certainly need to gather the intelligence and the resources to nip it in the bud," said Vine.

The former Border Force chief said he had warned the government of the danger before but it had not been a major priority. "Clearly if this is now the start of something new, then really that needs to be reassessed and resources need to be put in," he added.

With the clampdowns at the Port of Calais and Eurotunnel, the fear is that "more and more migrants will attempt to cross the Channel on small boats, putting their lives at risk", says the BBC's Simon Jones.

Ukip leader Nigel Farage has said a clear message must be sent out that "no migrant arriving on our shores by boat is allowed leave to remain".

Speaking on Radio 5 Live, Damian Collins, the MP for Folkestone and Hythe, rejected claims that the UK's coastline was "undefended", arguing that the Channel "was probably the most monitored stretch of water in the world".

Immigration minister James Brokenshire has also described the UK's borders as the most secure in the world.


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