I visited the new Calais jungle last week. I was last there in September 2015 with the BBC. However, we were advised by a security expert, engaged by the BBC, not to enter the Jungle as Thursday was ‘Migrants’ Demo Day’ and …”it gets a bit nasty, whipped up by the ‘aid workers’, to get attention. If they know you’re a politician, they will target you.”
However another Member of the European Parliament ignored his advice and went anyway. He and I agreed that she was just there for the cuddly photo and to give an open invitation to Britain. I wasn’t prepared to risk his safety and the safety of the BBC and my own staff.
As I sit on the LIBE committee (Justice, Home Affairs, Immigration) in the European Parliament and regularly speak in debates on this subject, I decided to visit again, only this time without an entourage.
I was stopped at the entrance – the old, dismantled Jungle – by a heavy police presence. I was asked for identity and showed my parliamentary pass which the police took to get authorisation from further up the food chain. I know we’re not in Schengen but at least I play by the rules, unlike the migrants, who are allowed to wander about as it pleases them. I have to show ID, go through security checks, but the migrants have no papers, we know not where they are from or even if they are terrorists who have slipped in. It seemed to me the police were guarding against the wrong people – my Dutch assistant and myself.
I met people from Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, all of whom had destroyed their papers and refused to be fingerprinted.
Most of the women I meet from north Africa spoke excellent English, they’re middle class and economic migrants and admitted they were not refugees.
They just want us to provide housing and have access to our NHS. They too destroyed their papers and refused to be filmed. That’s their prerogative but if you are honest about your status then you would have claimed asylum in the first country you arrived in.
When I asked them about other possible countries in which to live – Hungary (that was the first country they travelled through before the borders were closed), Austria and Germany – they said no, the UK was the only choice. Choice? Those in desperate need or fleeing for their lives do not think about choice.
Smart phones were in constant use. I asked how they paid for their usage. Again, no reply, suddenly English was a problem.
Only one man was prepared to be filmed, ‘S’ from Afghanistan who may be legally entitled to claim genuine asylum status. He said he had worked for the U.S. in Afghanistan in helping to supply fuel lines to the troops. He has five children and a wife. He claims he received death threats from the Taliban. If so, this is easily verifiable. If that is true, he has a special case to appeal to the U.S., not the UK. He said he had been refused asylum in France so therefore this may indicate he is not genuine. I took his contact details. I worry that like the other 4,500 men in the camp who have all left their girlfriends, wives and mothers behind, he has left his wife and five children. Is this cowardly behaviour? Shouldn’t he stay and fight for his country’s freedoms as our forefathers did and the 100s of British forces men and women that died in Afghanistan for them? What is the fate for his family left behind and the tens of thousands of others?
I spoke to a lovely British lady who, with her mother, were providing a nursery and a women’s refuge on an old London bus. They helped to separate the women from the men but said that the Sudanese women chose to stay with their menfolk.
She wanted to introduce me to the teenagers but, unfortunately, at 1pm they were still in bed. Like so many teenagers, you may think? Not so, these were still asleep from their nightly raids on the lorries and port to break into the UK. Where were the hundreds of police who are supposed to be ‘guarding’ them?
She also said that they separated the boys over 10 years from the girls ‘because of cultural differences’. She wouldn’t be drawn on this. Surely, I said, if they cannot or will not assimilate in the tight community here, how can we be expected to place that burden on our country and overstretched services? I also thought about Cologne and the other European city attacks on women and girls. The young age that they deemed it necessary to separate them was a worry.
There were around 60 portaloos, yet one man was squatting, defecating in a field, just yards from the loos. Others were using the bathroom facilities and taking advantage of the cooked breakfast, still being served at 1pm. I suppose that takes into account the illegal nightly raids.
The human rights industry is there in force, mainly UK-based, identified by car number plates and accents.
As I have said before, and was confirmed by a Red Cross worker, they persuade the migrants that they are refugees as they ‘enable the refugees by informing of them what to say to gain UK entry’. The pretty, young British middle class girls are there in force, also identified by their charity logo’d clothes, tossing their long glossy hair and self-congratulating.
Some were travelling back to London via Calais with me on Eurostar. Hearing the elocuted vowels and the public relations speak, I could have been listening to the end of a nice jolly jape at Glastonbury, where the Pippas and Charlottes had a lovely time in their Yurts, while the poorer people played in their tents and the mud.
Next time I am visiting Dunkirk where around 2,500 people are camped illegally. The aid workers told me they were mainly Kurds. She naively said she did not know why they had not claimed asylum in Turkey. I smiled.
This week in Parliament, Vice President Frans Timmermans, was very angry, telling us off like naughty children because some of our national governments are not accepting ‘refugees’. His language is legitimising economic migrants; legitimising the people traffickers’ and legitimising the messages that go out from social media to the migrant countries – he says we welcome refugees, we will take them, nations cannot refuse their fair share. How dare Timmermans dictate to us? Our national governments and my fellow MEPs, unlike him, we are all elected. And these Eurocrats wonder why the ‘populist’ parties are gaining so much ground and there is so much support for Brexit.
He tries to justify the dirty blackmail deal with Turkey. Yet Erdogan is gassing and bombing his own people, the Kurds. Is it any wonder they are camping out in Dunkirk?
Soon I am visiting Greece and Turkey and meeting officials from Greece, Frontex and migrants. I will report back.
Janice Atkinson is a Member of the European Parliament (Independent) and sits in the Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF) group