It’s been dismaying to hear politicians and media commentators speaking with such ignorance about the migrant situation at Calais. Most of those currently stranded at the French port are from countries where conflict and persecution are rife: Syria, Iraq, Sudan, Eritrea and Afghanistan.
The 3,000 individuals at Calais are a minuscule fraction of the world’s 20 million refugees, the majority of whom are in places like Turkey, Lebanon and Ethiopia, countries which are struggling to accommodate these unfortunate people.
Europe has taken in very few of the world’s refugees. Some EU countries – especially Germany and Sweden – have provided shelter for significant numbers, but the UK and even France (which receives twice as many asylum applications as the UK) are lagging far behind.
It’s no good countries like France and the UK proposing the erection of ever-higher security fences. Calais, along with the crisis in the Mediterranean, needs to be tackled as part of a comprehensive EU-wide refugee approach, including via managed resettlements.
Europe has itself endured the horrors of war, persecution and mass refugee flows. We need to respond far better than this. Hopefully the families that Sheffield are to resettle is the start.
Amnesty International Sheffield City Local Group