Radio Erena : 24 December 2014
At least 15 migrants in and around the French port of Calais have died in the past year as an influx of young men and women from east Africa take ever greater risks to get the UK, according to an investigation by the Guardian.
Growing numbers of young families, some with children as young as three, have also arrived in the French town in the past few months and are living in makeshift camps without sanitation or running water.
The European director of the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR) described the situation as shameful and warned more people will die in the refugee camps in the coming weeks as temperatures plummet.
“The conditions are totally unacceptable and are not consistent with the kind of values that a democratic society should have,” Vincent Cochetel from the UNHCR told the Guardian. “This is a shameful situation to witness in the heart of the Europe Union.”
The French authorities do not generally keep a record of the migrants who die in Calais, but local charities and the UNHCR say at least 15 people, including young women and teenagers, have died in the past 12 months.
Last month one man died after attempting to jump from a motorway bridge onto a moving lorry, and two more were killed in nearby Dunkirk when the truck they were hiding in caught fire. Earlier this month an Eritrean man was knocked down and killed as he looked for a lorry to board.
Cochetel said he believed conditions in Calais were now worse than those at refugee camps in Turkey, where hundreds of thousands of people arrive each month to escape the bloodshed in Syria. He said the British and French governments had yet to appreciate the severity of the situation.
“You will have people dying of cold and even more desperate people taking even more risks,” he said. “Some of the people there are becoming so tired and desperate that they are ready to do very dangerous things.”
The French port has repeatedly hit the headlines in the past year, amid an increasingly hostile debate in the UK around immigration and asylum. As more people arrived in Calais – and conditions deteriorated – clashes erupted between different groups of migrants and politicians on both sides of the channel called for ever tougher measures to secure the port.
Despite this the harsh reality of life for the people in the camps has been largely ignored. Today a Guardian investigation also reveals:
Source: The Guardian