The massive operation by 1,200 French riot police and gendarmes to bus the migrants in the ‘Jungle’ at Calais to reception centres elsewhere in France and to raze the illegal camp to the ground has begun. Allelujah.
You might think that the destruction of this crime-ridden and rat-infested shantytown, where up to 10,000 mainly African and Afghani migrants live in shacks and tents without running water or mains electricity, was good news. At last, those poor migrants will have a decent roof over their heads while they finally get round to applying to the French government for asylum, as nearly all are required to do by the law. But no.
Instead, the British left and the French right, joined in unholy alliance, are outraged: How dare François Hollande do such a thing! Britain, not France, must take the Calais migrants – they insist – because ‘that is where they want to go’.
But wanting to get to Britain is not yet a human right. And the law – based on the right of a real refugee to refuge in a safe country – is clear. Aspiring refugees must apply for asylum either in the first EU country they reach or, if they have not applied for asylum after five months in the EU, the country where they are currently. In the case of many of the ‘Jungle’ migrants that means Italy, Greece – or France. Not Britain.
There are a couple of exceptions: under the latest version of the EU’s Dublin Regulation, those with family connections in an EU country can apply for asylum there from another EU country. But they must stay in that country until their application is approved. Nor is it enough to say that they have an uncle in Birmingham. They must prove it. In addition, the Government has vowed to take in more unaccompanied migrant children.
But this group of unaccompanied minors are only a small minority of the total. And to get all 10,000 of those living in the ‘Jungle’ across the Channel, the Islington red rinse set and their imperial blue allies in France (Nicolas Sarkozy and Alain Juppé) need the camp to stay put for a while – at least until the Presidential elections next spring. Without this high viz simbol of ‘our’ callous indifference within sight of the promised land, their cause is doomed.
So the British left and the French right have reacted as if the ‘Jungle’ were some kind of Club Med village. Clare Moseley, co-founder of Care4Calais, compared the French operation to clear the Jungle of its migrants to round-ups of the Jews by the Nazis (although she did later apologise).
A group of charities even challenged the legality of clearing the ‘Jungle’ in a French court. While Saira Grant, chief executive of The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, says that ‘focusing exclusively’ on the children in the ‘Jungle’ ‘creates an artificial distinction which suggests that all the others who fled war, atrocities and persecution are not worthy of our help because they are adults.’
This groupthink is summed up to a tee in this comment, signed ‘Remain Man’, which was left on the Daily Mail website yesterday:
‘Absolutely disgraceful tearing their camp down. These poor innocent refugees are fleeing a war zone. They need our help. Open the border and let them into the UK so we can look after these poor people if France is going to be this cruel.’
As for the French side of the entente? It’s unshakable: the migrants are not a French problem but a British one, and their transfer to reception centres, many in rural areas, is an assault on la France Profonde and a betrayal of the République. The migrants do not want to go to la France Profonde, of course, because they want to get to Britain. And Calais is the best place to hide in lorries and cars bound for Dover.
Two thirds of them – according to a recent aid charity survey – say that they will refuse to leave the ‘Jungle’. About 200 British anarchists from ‘No Borders’ have arrived to lend them a hand, according to the French police. So far, there has been little violence. But it is early days.
Those who refuse to leave the ‘Jungle’ will be arrested, say the police, but no migrant remains in jail for long. They also say that once in the reception centres, the migrants must claim asylum within an as yet unspecified period. Or else, they will be deported. Few ever are. Sooner or later, the ‘Jungle’ will be back. What fantastic news that will be. For the British left and the French right.