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UK Green MEPs Urge Halt To ‘Inhumane’ Mass Deportation Plan

UK Green MEPs, Caroline Lucas and Jean Lambert | 17.07.2009 14:10 | Iraq | Migration

British and French governments’ plot to deport asylum seekers back to Afghanistan and Iraq breaks EU human rights law, say MEPs in letter to European Commission

17 July 2009 - In an urgent letter to the European Commission today, UK Green MEPs Caroline Lucas and Jean Lambert have called for an immediate suspension of plans to deport around 1,800 individuals from the so called ‘Jungle Camp’ in Calais back to Afghanistan and Iraq next week (1).

Writing to Justice, Freedom and Security Commissioner Jacques Barrot, the Green MEPs warn that the planned action, which is being taken jointly by the French and British authorities under the Evian Agreement, would be in direct breach of EU and international law on human rights and refugees.

Thousands of refugees and migrants from countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq or Somalia are currently camped outside Calais in a squalid tented area known as ‘The Jungle’. Around a fifth of them are thought to be children, living in desperate and dangerous conditions, where people are forced to sleep rough with little access to sanitation or resources.

In a joint statement, Caroline Lucas MEP and Jean Lambert MEP said:

“We urge the Commission to take immediate action to prevent next week’s deportations – and to ensure that the French authorities fulfil their responsibilities under both EU and international law, including improving conditions for those living in the camps at Calais.

“The threatened mass deportations ride roughshod over the European Convention on Human Rights, the 1951 Refugee Convention and the Geneva Convention. And given that so many of those facing expulsion are children, the plans may also breach the terms of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

“The vast majority of refugees in ‘The Jungle’ have had no contact whatsoever with official authorities since entering the EU. We are deeply concerned that there is a risk of deportation before these individuals have been interviewed in order to determine whether they are seeking asylum and are, therefore, protected by EU asylum law.”

Caroline Lucas MEP commented:

“Many migrants into France and the UK are fleeing from the consequences of the West’s foreign policy mistakes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Given this reality, you might imagine these governments would take their responsibilities to the international community more seriously.

“It is unacceptable that vulnerable people from some of the most troubled countries in the world be treated so inhumanely on European soil. Many residents in the camps are genuine asylum-seekers and not illegal immigrants. It is important that those people fleeing persecution and war have free access to the correct information so that they know they can make a genuine claim for asylum.

“At present, these individuals are at the mercy of ruthless traffickers who make impossible promises for significant profit. The presence of hundreds of children in the makeshift refugee camps is particularly distressing. Yet the French authorities would rather pretend they did not exist.”

Jean Lambert MEP said:

“The situation at Calais is a mess and short-term solutions won’t work. At the very minimum, we must provide dignity and health care to those in need, creating the space to look at more long term solutions. These solutions must be anchored in human rights and respect for international conventions.”


Notes to Editors

(1) A previous attempt at a mass deportation was overruled by the European Court of Human Rights on the grounds that the operation would contravene the European Declaration on Human Rights, as well as the trilateral agreement signed in 2002 by UNHCR with the Afghan and French governments, which stipulates that "the return of Afghans who do not enjoy protection... will be carried out in a gradual, ordered and humane way".

UK Green MEPs, Caroline Lucas and Jean Lambert
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  1. Other things you can do to challenge Calais clearance plans — calaismigrantsolidarity