The thousands of asylum seekers camped in filthy shanty towns in the port City of Calais are willing to risk their lives for the chance to get across the English Channel into the United Kingdom, because the “racism” of the French has turned them away, a report suggests.
Many of the migrants who wait in Calais while making daily attempts to board vehicles heading to Britain are from Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria, reports theLocal.fr, a European news site that interviewed many of those waiting this week.
One of those interviewed cited the keen efficiency of the British government to process asylum applications as a reason for wanting to get out of France: “They don’t want us to stay. France doesn’t like immigrants… If you ask for asylum they will say to us come back in three, four months. What am I supposed to do until then?”. Remarkably these attitudes prevail despite the £267 they each receive a month from the French government in support.
Another criticises France for the lack of opportunities it presents to newly arrived migrants from North Africa and the Near East, citing its high rate of unemployment compared to the UK. Many of the migrants can’t speak French, and find the natives contemptuous: “Even if they know English they don’t want to speak it… They understand what I am asking but they prefer to answer in French. At least the Italians try to speak to you”.
To one man, the racism was much more overt: “I don’t think they like to see black people… A man was shouting at me to go home. He said ‘We don’t want you”.
The prospect of asylum in the UK is such an enticing prospect, one man said “Get to England or die trying”. The growing camps of migrants in the Calais area has been an area for growing concern, with encampments existing in one form or another for many years. The presence of the migrants has caused significant tensions between the British and French governments, and even with citizen activist groups. The deputy mayor of Calais has called for all of the migrants to be shipped to the UK, a suggestion that was met with anger in some quarters.
More recently, British nationalist groups including the National Front, the British National Party (BNP) and the East Kent English Patriots have gathered in Dover to protest, citing the undue stress and risk it was subjecting cross channel lorry-drivers to. Concern that the French authorities are not doing enough to contain the problem has led the British government offering, as a gift to Calais, the use of the NATO ‘ring of steel’ fence which protected world leaders at the recent Cardiff conference.
British MP David Davies said this week: “The French authorities must get to grips with what’s happening. If necessary, they need to call in the Army. In short, they need to do everything possible to maintain public order and the safety of passengers”.