Tag Archives: Calais

This afternoon.

In Calais, France.

Lisa O’Carroll tweetz:

The new orange and green lanes for Brexit controls at Eurotunnel in Calais where media are being shown €15m worth of new infrastructure in place for potential no deal.

Meanwhile…

Lisa O’Carroll tweetz:

Finishing touches being out on the border inspection post in Eurotunnel in Calais. Nine inspection bays where trucks can be unloaded fully or partially: ground already reinforced for 44tonne trucks and 20 stables waiting to be built in next three weeks for horses

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A vigil outside Leinster House on November 2 supporting calls for 200 unaccompanied child refugees in Calais to be relocated to Ireland

Last night.

The Dáil passed an all-party motion committing Ireland to take 200 children from the former makeshift refugee camp in Calais, France.

It passed without debate.

The motion came about following a campaign by the group Not On Our Watch – a group of Irish volunteers who have been travelling back and forth to Calais to help those present.

The group, and supporters, held a vigil outside Leinster House last week calling for the motion to be carried.

From last night’s proceedings:

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald: I move:

“That Dáil Éireann:

— stands in solidarity with all people displaced by war and conflict seeking international protection in Europe;

— notes that the French Government has dismantled the refugees camp in Calais and has moved the unaccompanied 1,500 children to other areas in France;

— notes with concern that up to 10,000 children are missing and at risk across Europe and that this requires a special humanitarian response from European Union (EU) member states;

— commends the Irish humanitarian response led by the Naval Service’s ongoing search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea and our humanitarian aid programmes;

— notes the establishment of the Irish Refugee Protection Programme in September 2015 to implement the decision of Dáil Éireann to bring 4,000 persons seeking refuge to Ireland and opt in to the EU relocation and resettlement programmes and endorses the stated priority to support the wellbeing of, and to provide safe services for, the protection of unaccompanied minors, children and their families;

— notes the disappointment that there is slow progress to date in actually relocating refugees to Ireland for various reasons;

— commends the work of Irish non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and their volunteers for the support that they have given in addressing the migrant crisis;

— agrees that where practical to prioritise those unaccompanied minors from countries specified in the EU Relocation Programme as those who are likely to be in most need of assistance; and

— notes the ongoing commitment and resources of the French and UK authorities to provide protection to unaccompanied minors from the unofficial camp in Calais in accordance with EU and international law; and

calls on the Government to:

— convey to the French Government the solidarity of the Irish people and of Dáil Éireann in relation to the protection of unaccompanied minors previously living in the unofficial camp in Calais and their readiness to offer assistance if needed;

— work with the French authorities, in accordance with national and international law, to identify up to 200 unaccompanied minors previously living in the unofficial camp in relation to the protection of unaccompanied children previously living in the unofficial camp in Calais and convey Ireland’s commitment to offer assistance to the French authorities;

— act now to ensure the relocation to Ireland, by 1st May, 2017, of 200 of these unaccompanied children;

— commence a programme of relocation in liaison with Tusla and Irish volunteers and youth care professionals operating in Calais in a structured and timely fashion with the best interests of the children always given primacy; this programme is to compliment, and is additional to, the Irish Refugee Protection Programme;

— work with the French authorities, in accordance with international law and in consultation with youth care professionals formerly working in the camp, to identify those unaccompanied children who would want to come to Ireland;

— make available the necessary resources and expertise to Tusla, all relevant agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) so the vulnerable children can be offered a new start with those families that have offered to provide them with a home or in other appropriate settings; and

— use this pressing need to reaffirm the Government’s overall commitment, on behalf of the people, to a coherent national programme involving the public and private sectors, communities, NGOs and volunteers, that would help to establish Ireland as a society of equality, tolerance and diversity.”

Regina Doherty: “I move amendment No. 1:

“That the following text be added to the motion:

That Dáil Éireann will work with the French authorities, in accordance with the national and international law, and liaise with volunteers and youth care professionals formerly operating in the camp to identify up to 200 unaccompanied minors previously living in the unofficial camp in Calais who expressed the desire to come and stay in Ireland so that they can be relocated as soon as is practicable.”

Amendment agreed to.

Motion, as amended, agreed to.

Transcript via Oireachtas.ie

Previously: For Your Consideration: Voices From Calais

Pic: Ross McCarthy

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Tomorrow night.

Outside the Kildare Street entrance to Dáil Éireann, at 7pm.

The Not On Our Watch campaign are holding a vigil to coincide with a Dáil debate on the group’s call for Ireland to welcome 200 unaccompanied children from the refugee camp, The Jungle, in Calais northwest France.

The campaign writes:

Ireland’s response to the unprecedented global displacement of men, women and children as a result of numerous wars has been almost non-existent. The French government recently demolished most of The Jungle however almost 1,500 children remain in precarious circumstances in the camp. The Irish government must represent the wishes of it’s people, 800 of whom last year offered to give a home to unaccompanied refugee children.

Not On Our Watch, backed by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, many NGOs including the Irish Refugee Council, the Children’s Rights Alliance, the Immigrant Council of Ireland and Sister Stan Kennedy have called on the Irish government to immediately act to help 200 of those children and relocate them to Ireland.

We are calling for people to please attend at the Dáil (Kildare Street entrance) and bring your children along. Our supporters are asking their children to make “2♥♥” signs and to hold them up for the politicians to see as they enter the Dáil for the debate. As it will be dark we also ask you to bring candles. It is important that our children know that we did not let unaccompanied refugee children down – Not On Our Watch.

Not On Our Watch (Facebook)

Thanks Gary Daly

Meanwhile…

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Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald and Independents4Change TD Clare Daly in a meeting of the Joint Committee on Justice and Equality on October 5

On Wednesday, October 5, the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald appeared before the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice and Equality to discuss the UN Summit on Refugees and Migrants.

This was before the demolition of the makeshift refugee camp in Calais, France.

From the meeting, Ms Fitzgerald had the following exchange with Independents4Change TD Clare Daly…

Clare Daly: “… we get nice statements and lofty aspirations but the reality on the ground is rather different. We have heard a great deal from the Government about the thousands we are taking in, how the numbers are far beyond any commitments given and so on. The reality is, as the Minister of State, Deputy [David] Stanton, said last month, 486 people have been resettled in Ireland, 69 of whom came from Greece while none has come from Italy. The figure includes one unaccompanied minor. This is despite the Minister’s public commitment that this would be a priority area.

I hate talking about numbers because we are talking about human beings, each of whom has to endure a horrendous journey to get to these outposts of Europe. They bring the legacy of a life almost annihilated. It is not even clear to me what the figures are. For example, the Minister of State, Deputy Stanton, said previously that of the 4,000 only 2,622 persons would be relocated from Italy and Greece, while the others would come on the family resettlement programme. That is deeply troubling given the manner in which we are implementing that programme already. For example, I am aware of a Syrian who lives here with Irish friends and who has been trying to relocate some of her family to Ireland under family reunification provisions. Such has been the concern of some friends in Ireland that they have travelled to Greece to assist this woman to be reunited with her family. They have been through extreme trauma. Anyway, they have been unable to do what they set out to do.

The stories from the people on the frontline do not back up the points made to the effect that it is a bureaucracy operated by the Greeks and Italians and it is all their fault. Moreover, they do not correspond to Deputy [Alan] Farrell’s version to the effect that no one wants to come to Ireland anyway. That is not what Irish volunteers are saying. They have been in Greece and Lebanon. To a man and to a woman the story they come back with is that no one there is aware of Ireland.”

There is zero recognition of Ireland as a destination. Irish volunteers have gone to every camp in Lebanon. They have seen hardly any presence of Irish people there, albeit they are not there all the time. They have interviewed people with the help of interpreters. In the case of each of the sites, the people there simply did not know about Ireland, the type of country it was, whether they would be welcome or anything like that. Deputy Wallace and I went to Calais. Given the geography and given that Ireland is a small country, many people do not realise that Ireland is an English-speaking country. However, language is one of the key reasons the people in Calais want to go to England. They do not realise how the system works.”

“The approach taken to family unification has been adversarial rather than a sensitive or sympathetic approach. I put it to the Minister that she has considerable latitude in this regard. Ultimately, the decisions are taken by the Minister and she has discretion. Why does she not intervene and exercise that discretion?

The Minister has made public statements to the effect that addressing the question of unaccompanied minors would be a priority. This is a real area of concern, especially given the decision of the French Government to shut down “the jungle” later this month and the fact that France has said it cannot accommodate more than 250 of the unaccompanied minors there. There is potential for hundreds of children to be lost and unaccounted for.

“I want to know what we are doing in that regard. What accommodation is available for these children? We have tried to pursue this with Tusla and we have asked how the agency is dealing with these matters. The Minister has spoken publicly of the extraordinary and generous offers by the public of accommodation and taking on children. All of that is true but it is not being processed. Where are the log-jams in that placement? For example, Tusla has said it has vetted three people for foster care arrangements.

“I and others have said publicly that we would be happy to put ourselves forward to care for an unaccompanied minor and to be vetted and so on. If we were to publicly advertise these schemes I believe there are large numbers of Irish people who would be willing to participate and it could happen at no extra expense to the State. It could alleviate the trauma those children are experiencing. Why not establish a temporary consulate and humanitarian visa scheme? We could bring some of those children here. They are in imminent danger.

“I am conscious of the time and I would like to discuss this more. We have not done enough and there are things we could do if we had the will. It would be great if we did something to stand out in terms of our dealings with the hot spots. For example, there are 18 places for unaccompanied minors at the moment. That is completely and utterly inadequate when it comes to the assessment of facilities here. There should be at least 100 places. Berlin, which has a population of 3.5 million people, has 900 residential places for unaccompanied children. We need to do far more. I am embarrassed and ashamed as an Irish person because of how little we have done. I do not think it is bureaucracy or that people do not want to come to Ireland. They know where it is and if we went out and promoted ourselves, there are many who would take the arm off you for the right to come.”

Frances Fitzgerald: “The Deputy is questioning the commitment of Ireland to respond to refugees but she must understand that we are part of the international response. We are working with an international and European response and we have given a commitment to bring in refugees. The Deputy is not alone in her feelings and every one of us who sees the work our Naval Service is doing and the plight of unaccompanied minors, wants to respond as fast as possible. We all care and want to do the very best we can.

The Deputy is wrong about a number of things. We have people on the ground and Ireland has the fourth or fifth highest staff numbers working on our current response. Calais is not included in our resettlement programme.

Daly: “I did not say it is.”

Fitzgerald: “It raises hugely complex issues. According to Greek figures and in terms of numbers taken for resettlement up to 28 September 2016, Lichtenstein is ahead of us, as are Norway, Luxembourg, Austria, Finland, Iceland and Malta. However, we are not a frontline country with people arriving on our shores. However, we are absolutely committed to taking the numbers I have outlined within the structures of the EU. It has been a slow start and I regret that but it is outside my control or that of Government. Nevertheless, the procedures are in place and staff teams from the Department of Justice and Equality are going out to refugee camps to identify people. We are working with Greece to ensure that people know Ireland is an English-speaking destination. The numbers are increasing now and will rise very significantly.

“We have only dealt with several hundred to date but those people have come into our emergency reception centres, they have received English language training and have been put in contact with local services. They have moved out to communities across Ireland and they are now beginning the integration process. There is an absolute commitment to meet the targets we set.”

“I take the Deputy’s point that the scale of this is appalling. We must ask if there is more we can do and also what else we could be doing. We are open to reconsidering the numbers next year but our first commitment is to take the numbers we said we would take within the EU scheme. We have spoken to the Greek authorities about identifying young, unaccompanied minors. Deputy Clare Daly has the numbers for Calais but we are not working in Calais.

“We are, however, working with the Greeks to identify young unaccompanied minors. Some significant issues arise in respect of unaccompanied minors. The first one of these is identifying them and many of those who were initially identified as unaccompanied minors were actually 19, 20 or 21. This is a problem that is recognised by all groups carrying out assessments in Greece.”

“I have spoken to the CEO of Tusla and that organisation has a commitment to take unaccompanied minors. We are in the process of identifying them and we want to do the very best for them. We believe the best thing would be to have foster homes for them but there is a shortage of foster carers in Ireland at the moment. We must do everything we can to encourage more people to become foster parents. I am advised that unaccompanied minors will begin to arrive shortly and will be placed in foster care.

“The Deputy said that nothing had been done in terms of a public response but that is incorrect. I chaired a meeting on Monday at which the Red Cross was represented. That organisation has worked with all the people who have offered pledges and it has identified people who are willing to supply housing. Some very difficult issues arise in the context of pledges which come in from the public.”

“It is not the role of this committee to go into huge detail on them but the Red Cross has done very significant work in the past number of months with people who have given pledges, many of whom offered accommodation for three months or a year. We need to consider the sustainable issues around that and where refugees go afterwards. They will be citizens at that point, actually, but the question remains of where they go when their accommodation ceases to be available after a year or so. Local authorities were also at the meeting on Monday and they are giving a very significant response, as evidenced by the numbers who have already gone through the emergency reception centres. Insurance issues arise and there are health and safety issues.”

The Red Cross has now got to the point where it can say there are a certain number of houses available for the refugees who are coming in. A total of 640 have been supplied already and I think the figure for pledges from the public is approximately 160. The Red Cross is working assiduously with the Department and other stakeholders to make sure that, as refugees arrive, they will be in a position to utilise those pledges. The Deputy is wrong to say that the work is not being done. The work is being done by the Red Cross. There is a huge amount of detail in this work. It is one thing for the public to respond to what they saw on the beaches of southern Greece but it is quite another thing to put in place a system whereby we can use the pledges we have received.”

The churches are also involved in offering accommodation and that is also being worked through with the church representatives. I held a meeting with them and the Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality, Deputy Stanton, is doing a huge amount of work in this area. There has been a slow start, not to our resettlement programme but to our relocation programme. People are now arriving every month, however, in increasing numbers.”

“This will test the systems and we will have to make sure that our education system and our health system respond locally to the needs of the refugees. These needs are complex, as anybody who has met Syrian refugees in this country or any group of families will know. Young men who have spent four or five years in refugee camps and are now trying to rebuild their lives have very complex health needs. We have met the Departments of Health and Education and Skills to ensure we have a proper response to all these issues.”

“I understand the Deputy’s frustration and that she wants to do more but the work is under way and we will meet our commitments. We are meeting them now in an accelerating way. The Deputy also asked about family reunification, for which people who arrive here are eligible. Many of the 4,000 who are arriving are families and a ratio is built into the system for applications made for family reunification on the part of people whose families are not with them.”

Daly:I wish to correct the record on one point. People can be doing things but getting nowhere and that is the point I am making. I am not saying that people are doing nothing but I am saying that the Irish presence in the camps is not visible enough, in Greece or in Lebanon. I do not say there is no one there but they are not advertising Ireland. I am not saying, either, that no work was done. However, we have to look at the outcome of the work. We have 10% of the committed numbers. That is all we have taken.”

Fitzgerald: “There is a reason, as I have explained.”

Daly:If one takes the Red Cross, well over 800 people made offers but now we have 160, which shows there is a roadblock. Many people made offers for unaccompanied minors. It is not just that there are not enough foster carers. There have been no advertisements to seek them.”

“I have no hesitation in saying the relocation and facilities provided for the small number who got here under the scheme are excellent. I could not fault a single thing with the manner in which the people have been treated when they got here. However, the issues are the numbers are not getting in and there are roadblocks which need to be removed.”

Irish people working in Calais have done an assessment of the situation. We have given a report on this to the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality and the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade. While we are not compelled to do anything, we can consider it for humanitarian reasons and circumstances.

Fitzgerald:There is one correction I want to make. There are 383 currently active accommodation offers which include 280 shared accommodation properties. The balance consists of self-contained properties. This is on the Irish Red Cross side.”

“Deputy Daly claims there are barriers. Some of these are international. No country can take people in without some vetting. There are issues with vetting in Italy, for example. I have explained the international context. Within these constraints, we are working to ensure our pledges are met as quickly as possible.”

“The information I gave to the committee highlights the fact we have the background work done. I am glad the Deputy acknowledged our facilities are excellent. The experience of the couple of hundred refugees who have come here has been very good. The agencies are responding and the numbers will accelerate. The barriers have not been in Ireland but in the hotspots. This is about getting the vetting process working effectively and efficiently. Next time I report to the committee, there will be many more numbers involved.”

Watch back here

Transcript: Oireachtas.ie

Previously: ‘Wouldn’t Hassan’s Children Flourish Here?’

Related: FG’s Regina Doherty says taking Calais minors a ‘no-brainer’ (Kitty Holland, Irish Times)

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At the makeshift refugee camp in Calais, France

Further to reports of several hundred unaccompanied child refugees being left unregistered with nowhere to go in Calais, France, following its demolishment…

Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance Tanya Ward writes:

The Irish Government made a pledge to take 4,000 refugees and to prioritise unaccompanied minors in its International Refugee Programme. To date, only one unaccompanied minor is being relocated to Ireland under the Programme.

We know that unaccompanied minors have been exposed to serious abuse. They have no schools to attend and many are being exploited by ruthless child traffickers. We know from media reports that children as young as eight have been found unaccompanied in the Calais Camp.

Tusla (the Child and Family Agency) has considerable experience meeting the needs of unaccompanied minors or separated children. Ireland is well-placed to play a central role in supporting the relocation of these children. We are calling on the Government to urgently act to protect these children.

Meanwhile…

Concern for children as Calais camp cleared (RTE)

France: Unfinished Calais Efforts Leave Many at Risk, Scores of Unaccompanied Children, Adults Stranded as Relocation Ended (Human Rights Watch)

Previously: Separation In Calais

Pic: CNN

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In the past hour.

At the makeshift refugee camp in Calais, France, which is currently being demolished.

Caoimhe Butterly writes:

“Large parts of the camp have been burning since last night, residents have been leaving in large groups since 3am with others sleeping outside in the cold and now, in the immediate aftermath of three more explosions (of canisters of cooking gas), riot police mobilise and forcefully block First Responders, medics, child protection volunteers and others from entry to peripheries of the camp that remain undamaged.”

“Families are separated with members on either side of CRS [riot police] lines and police threatening to tear-gas those trying to account for those inside.”

As well as observing what is happening in Calais, Caoimhe is part of a solidarity group which is trying to respond to the basic and immediate needs of some of the women, men and children in Calais.

They are accepting donations which will be used to buy hiking/durable shoes and rucksacks, sleeping bags, phones and phone credit, medical supplies, etc. Additional funds will be passed on to projects which have been doing long-term work with unaccompanied youths.

Anyone who wishes to donate can do so here

Previously: ‘Who Is “We”? What Constituency Do You Represent?’

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Human rights activist Bairbre Flood, from Cork, has created an hour-long radio documentary, The Hungry Road, in which she speaks to people seeking refuge who are subsisting in the makeshift camp in Calais, France.

Bairbre writes:

The police have stopped volunteers bringing in building materials so with the influx of around 70 new people a day, many are living in cramped tents.

One medic from Ireland, Elena Lydon, who regularly works in the camp,said that ‘for the first time people were coming up saying they were hungry to us in the first aid caravans.’

Most of us know of all this, as Calais has been substantially reported on this last year, but what are people really like in the camp? Where have they come from – geographically, culturally, personally?

‘The Hungry Road’, a reference to the Irish famine, is an attempt to get behind the statistics and hear what some individuals have to say about living in what most described as ‘hell’.

Everyone I talked to had endured incredibly traumatic events in both their original countries and along the road seeking refuge in Europe.

Blocked at the final hurdle, many are now seeking asylum in France, but have to wait in the camp while their application is being processed.

Others are trying desparately to reach family members in Britain where they feel people are more sympathetic to refugees and not as racist as the French.

Many speak English already and say that there are better job and study opportunities there.

Still, others have heard that the asylum process is much quicker than in France and they will be able to apply for family reunification for loved ones who could get no further than Lebanon, Turkey and other countries.

Whatever their reasons, and there are many – they have the right to be treated with respect and allowed to choose the country which they feel will be best for them and their families. That’s what Irish people have been doing for generations.

There are about 50,000 undocumented Irish migrants working in the US illegally. Imagine if Irish people in the States were treated the way the people in Calais are treated?

Police regularly tear-gas the camp and almost everyone I interviewed had been beaten or pepper-sprayed by the CRS. One man told me how a police officer took one of his shoes when he caught him near the town. Another, of how he was pepper-sprayed in the face at the train station.

And the utter feeling of neglect is palpable in an EU that spends more on border fences, tear-gas, scanners, dogs and razor wire than it does on caring for peoples basic needs or allowing them safe passage.

How can we justify that? What is it like for people already suffering, to have to deal with this abuse and neglect?

Bairbre created the documentary with the assistance of the Mary Raftery Journalism Fund.

Yearning Curve (Bairbre Flood)

Previously: ‘We’d Settle For Animal Rights’

Pic: Isolda Heavy

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Yesterday’s Sunday Independent

Yesterday’s Sunday Independent reported how the Irish Red Cross has been contacted by 800 people in Ireland who wish to offer accommodation for refugees.

Further to this…

Independent TD Mick Wallace speaking in the Dáil on Thursday, following a recent trip to the makeshift refugee camp in Calais, France.

During his speech, he implored Ireland to do more for the people languishing in Calais and Dunkirk.

He said:

Last weekend, Deputy Clare Daly, a solicitor called Gary Daly from Dublin, and I went to Calais for the weekend and spent three days there – two days in the Jungle camp in Calais and a day in Dunkirk. It is hard to be well after what we witnessed.

It is hard to be well thinking about the role that the EU is playing in the issue of refugees at the moment. It is bad enough that Ireland has been complicit by allowing Shannon to be used as a US military base. We seem to be very comfortable with it – 2.5 million troops have gone through Shannon since 2001.

Anyone who pretends to think that this is nothing to do with the refugee problem is living in cuckoo land. We have been complicit in the destruction of the homes of millions of people.

We saw the end result of it in Calais and Dunkirk last weekend. It is just horrific where these people are today. It is horrific that the EU has played such a poor role in it. Last year, we had the release valve of Germany doing the right thing and taking close to 1 million people. They cannot do it again this year. There will be a serious problem.

The EU can block all the borders it likes but the refugees will come.

In terms of the Greece-Turkey situation it will be a bit more difficult for them now there but it means there will be more of them on the Mediterranean this summer.

The deal the EU did with Turkey and Greece is shameful. We met Kurds in Dunkirk. The notion that Turks will actually arrive on islands off Greece and be forced back to Turkey is beyond thinking about.

We talked to a guy called Beshwar Hassan who is the head of a refugee council in Dunkirk. These people are afraid of their life of the Turks because of what the Turks have been doing to them.

Today in Turkey it is possible for ISIS to get direct access to hospitals and there are special supermarkets that it can access. How in God’s name could the EU take the position of allowing Turkey to play this role? We pay them for doing it.

This is not the answer to the migrant problem. Turkey will make things worse for these people and it will not solve the problem that is arriving in Europe. We are still saying we will not take people who have arrived in Europe and that they will have to be assessed outside of Europe.

We met kids of 11, 14 and 15 years of age, a lot of whom were Afghan. Calais is dominated by Afghans. There is a fear in Ireland that a lot of these people are terrorists and could cause trouble here. Afghanistan is in bits.

The pretence that things are sorted in Afghanistan is total nonsense. We met a lot of Afghans over the weekend and most of them were running from the Taliban and from ISIS. This time last year, they reckon that there were 100 ISIS fighters in Afghanistan.

Last week, they claimed that there are 10,000 of them. The Afghans that we met were at pains to point out that ISIS is now more powerful in Afghanistan than the Taliban and that the Government is a sideshow.

Most of the people we met in Calais who had to run had nothing to do with the Government, the UN or the US army, but some of their cousins had. They are afraid of their life of the Taliban and ISIS, both of which said that their cousins would have to stop doing this, that or the other or that they had done this, that or the other in the past and will pay a price for it.

They have had no choice but to get out of the country. They told us of an Afghan who, after spending six months in Calais, just could not take it anymore. He had mentally had enough of it and decided that he was just going to hand himself in and go home. He went home and was dead in two weeks. It is not a safe country to return anyone who has run out of the place. It is out of the question.

I think the Irish Government should look at the camps in Calais and Dunkirk. We have met many good people there – people who have a lot to add to society here. It would be such a gesture to go over there, process people, take them from these camps and bring them to Ireland to settle them. It would mean so much and it would be a beautiful thing to do.

Transcript via Oireachtas.ie

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French riot police and refugees at the ‘jungle’ camp in Calais, France this morning

You may recall reports from Saturday about how nine refugees had been found in a truck in Wexford.

It’s since been reported they are Kurdish men, and that eight of the men are now seeking asylum in Ireland, while the ninth man has been “detained for immigration offences”.

This morning officials started to dismantle sections of the refugee camp in Calais, France.

Further to this…

The Immigrant Council of Ireland writes:

The discovery of refugees in a container [in Wexford] from France is the direct result of the EU’s failure to honour commitments on resettlement and funding in response to the crisis.

Those involved have come through an ordeal and must be provided with every possible support – including medical aid, access to swift immigration procedures and legal representation.

Brian Killoran, Chief Executive of the Immigrant Council says: “While the arrival of refugees in containers in Ireland is unusual it is not unprecedented and it again highlights the fact that EU Government’s including our own have not honoured their commitments to offer protection, help and support to those fleeing war and conflict.

“The first priority now is to ensure that those found are treated with humanity. Any request they make to restart their lives in Ireland must be swiftly processed through fair and transparent immigration procedures.

The next Government must immediately honour the promises already made by restarting the lifesaving operation by the navy on the high seas, end the unacceptable delay in Ireland offering shelter to men, women and children fleeing for their lives and implement policies to ensure proper integration of those arriving here.”

Meanwhile, in Dimitrovgrad, Serbia, near the Bulgarian border…

Andrew Connolly reports:

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates that just under 30,000 refugees entered Bulgaria in 2015, a seemingly small percentage of the total arrivals in Europe, which passed the million mark.

Yet no other EU state has seen anywhere near a comparable number of allegations of violence committed against refugees. In a continent increasingly torn by how to deal with the ceaseless arrival of people fleeing the world’s worst conflicts, Bulgaria’s tough approach is silently tolerated, if not publicly endorsed.

In December 2015, British Prime Minister David Cameron met with his Bulgarian counterpart (and former bodyguard to Communist dictator Todor Zhivkov), posed for photos at Bulgaria’s fence with Turkey and praised the border regime for doing “vital work” for Britain in stemming the flow of refugees.

…In March 2015, the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee reported that two Iraqi Yazidis fleeing ISIL and whose legs were reportedly broken by Bulgarian police were brought back to Turkey by friends and, unable to move, eventually froze to death in a remote village.

Refugees in container a result of Europe’s failures (Immigrant Council of Ireland)

Letter from Dimitrovgrad: Europe’s most hostile port of entry (Andrew Connolly, Politico)

France begins clearing part of Calais migrant camp (Reuters)

Previously: Found In A Truck

Choice Would Be A Fine Thing

Pawns In The Game 

Pics: MSF

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This morning.

A new Banksy outside the French embassy in London – depicting the tear gassing of refugees at the so-called ‘Jungle’ in Calais – being covered up.

Banksy’s artwork included, for the first time, a QR code beneath it – allowing viewers to link to and watch an online video of a raid on the camp by police on January 5.

Related: Banksy’s new artwork criticises use of teargas in Calais refugee camp (The Guardian)

Previously: ‘We’d Settle For Animal Rights’

Via Jon Scammell

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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 refugeeinfonetwork@gmail.com 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