Safer Passage



From top: Refugee Info Network logo; ‘The Jungle’ in Calais, France

Sinéad Williams writes:

“I have set up an initiative called the Refugee Info Network (RIN). The aim of this project is to provide asylum seekers with information on asylum application processes across Europe in plain and simple language. We want to empower people by giving them access to information on their rights and options. We hope to be able to provide this service in as many languages as possible.”

“RIN was set up after I visited and worked in the Jungle camp in Calais, France for a number of weeks at the end of 2015. Ultimately, most of the refugees in Calais and surrounding camps will not be able to fulfill their aim of getting to the UK to claim asylum because of legal impediments and the sheer danger involved in making an illegal crossing.”

“Therefore, we would like to encourage people to choose an alternative route – namely, applying for asylum in another EU state and moving to the UK (or elsewhere) once they have obtained refugee status and citizenship. It is a much more time consuming method, but infinitely safer (and more practical for those with families in the camp). We also want to make people aware of the realities of asylum systems across Europe – rights, entitlements, waiting times, acceptance rates, etc – so that they are prepared for what to expect.”

We currently require more volunteers to help us carry out research, fact-checking, editing and translation work. If any of your readers think they’d be interested in getting involved they can email for more information.”

Meanwhile, anyone who wishes to support some of the Irish volunteer efforts in Calais may wish to note that Dublin youth worker Karen Moynihan is trying to establish a youth centre in Calais.

Karen is appealing for donations here.

Thanks Caoimhe Butterly

Pic: AP

32 thoughts on “Safer Passage

  1. Joni2015

    Great initiative. Hopefully the rest of Europe will get to experience the joys of refugees just like the good people in Cologne.

  2. CousinJack

    After whats happened in Germany, why would anyone else accept them? Germany and France forced the agreement to let 1 million immigrants into the EU last year, they should deal with the problem that they created.

  3. Junkface

    Are they mostly North Africans in Calais? Or a mix of Central Africans too? After the actions of 1000 rapist scumbags from North Africa in Cologne on NYE they have royally f****d up the hopes for a lot of genuine immigrants

  4. ahjayzis

    I genuinely don’t understand why they don’t apply for asylum in France or the other states they passed through on their way to Calais. The UK isn’t great at asylum seeker hospitality or anything.

    They’re not going to get into Britain this way, it’s too hard to do it illegally / they’ll be put to the back of the legit queue. The UK isn’t even world reknowned at giving great at asylum seeker hospitality or anything. What’s wrong with France / Germany / the low countries?

      1. Charger Salmons

        Actually the UK provides more money for refugee camps in Turkey and certain Arab countries than all the rest of Europe put together.
        And the UK is committed to allowing a certain number of refugees FROM THOSE CAMPS in become citizens.
        What they don’t want to do is open the floodgates to even more immigrants,particularly the hundreds of thousands from countries where there is no religious or political persecution.
        And let’s not forget when we’re up on our high horses how many hundreds of thousands of Irish people get an economic lifeline from living and working in the UK after yet another economic disaster foisted upon the Irish people by their own Government.
        Let’s see how the Irish would react if there was a refugee camp in Wales full of Syrians and Nigerians trying to gain illegal entry via a ferry into Ireland.

        1. ahjayzis

          You misread me. I wasn’t criticizing the UK – but on that point, Cameron’s agreed number he’s taking from the camps is paltry, 20k over 5 years, little Ireland did better – and taking zero refugees from elsewhere in Europe is a massive copout on any notion of European solidarity – he wants to handpick ‘desirables’ from camps.

          I agree it would be foolish to take any from Calais in particular – it’s an informal, haphazard, unsafe camp and to do so would be to legitimise it as a route to England.

    1. Sinead

      It’s English speaking, so people feel they will be more likely to find work. Some people have family members in the UK. Some people don’t know a lot about other European countries.

      1. ollie

        Why would any country let in people with no identification and therefore no way of proving that they pose no threat to the country or its citizens?

      2. Chiara

        Sinead, correct me if I am wrong but by stating this didn’t you just switch these people from the refugees category to the immigrants one? Refugees are people who flee their own country to escape a great threat in pure state of emergency and they nees to be protected but once they start travelling through countries like Turkey, Greece, Italy, France etc. in order to reach their destination of first choice then the refugee status does not apply any more to them. By vocabolary and by law.

        1. Sinead

          Your logic would make almost none of the refugees with status in Ireland refugees, given the fact that there aren’t direct flights here from most places people are fleeing from.

          That’s not how the legal definition of a refugee works. It comes from the Geneva Convention, 1951. You can have choice as to where you flee to. A refugee is defined as –

          “a person who, owing to a well founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his or her nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his or her former habitual residence, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.”

          You are confusing refugee status with the EU’s Dublin III Regulation in there – the mechanism used to determine which member state is responsible for an asylum seeker. That regulation can mean that asylum seekers can be returned from one European Union state to another. A country can argue that since the asylum seeker passed through another country to get to it, that country should be responsible for processing their claim for refugee status. In essence, what you said – that they should have applied in the first safe country they got to (in the EU). It has not been strictly applied in recent times. It’s not mandatory and usually one would have to had their fingerprints taken in the “passed-through” country for it to be applied. Germany “paused” it last year to allow Syrians to get there.

          The future of that regulation and its application seems precarious given that it puts an incredibly unfair amount of pressure being put on the peripheral EU member states.

          Going beyond the first country you get to doesn’t make the fact you are escaping serious danger any less true. People are still entitled to want to get to somewhere they can make a life for themselves if they can. Or somewhere their family is or they know people.

          1. Chiara

            Sinead, I respectfully still wonder if you do understand the difference between a refugee and an economic migrant?

            A refugee is a person whose sole motivation to leave their country to flee death or persecution. Once they reach safety, any further movement is logically for economic or lifestyle reasons.

            If you take your logic a step further then people from an economically distraught country like Greece should be perfectly entitled to seek a better quality of life in an English speaking country that would offer better prospects like the US or Canada for example and so on..

            Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that people shouldn’t be able to seek a better quality of life because of course they should if they are fully committed to respect the laws, culture and lifestile of the country that is going to welcome them.

            I just just wish we define and name things accordingly ‘though and stop the evident confusionon between two very different issues.

          2. Sinead

            No, I don’t agree with your conclusions, Chiara. That’s incredibly black and white thinking, to my mind. You’ve taken semantics too far to the point that it fails in application in reality. By your logic, almost all refugees are not refugees, those fleeing particular countries would have to all stay in one country. The Geneva Convention doesn’t work along the lines you’re thinking of.

            And your analogy about Greece fails, since the Greeks fleeing in it wouldn’t be fleeing persecution and death. I never said people are entitled to go wherever their prospects are best, I said refugees don’t have to stay in the absolute first country they reach to be considered refugees. Your analogy takes one sentence completely out of context.

  5. B Hewson

    I have read a lot of comments in the media and on news from migrants suggest they had different expectations and would like to go back home. Has a website been set-up with travel details to cater for these home-sick migrants to get them home safely. Or even to safe parts of their home countries or a neighbouring country. Maybe an exchange program? Or the migrants who leave and go home from the Calais camp could AirBNB their tents to help themselves get set up again once back home?

  6. JamesConnolly

    The migrants in Calais could apply for asylum in France if they wanted.

    They refuse to, cost benefit analysis applied and they want to pick Britain.

    After the diversity festival of Cologne, it shows that the numbers being taken in are unsustainable and that integration and assimilation are not possible.

    These numbers mean people do not have to assimilate or adopt German norms.

    Is it any wonder that the radical right are the fastest growing parties in Europe among women, jews, gays and working class people.

    All the ones hit hardest while the middle class plan solidarity campaigns.

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