On our doorsteps:
addressing the Calais’ humanitarian crisis
DI GIACOMO BIONDI e CAROLINA V.RODRIGUES (LSE)
In the heart of Europe’s migration challenges, Calais has emerged as a symbol of the instrumentalization of disaster. Since the 1990s, Northern France has become the last stop of many migrants trying to reach the United Kingdom (UK). French authorities, in strict collaboration with British officials, have responded with securitization and militarization, creating a hostile environment against refugees and carrying out violent evictions on a daily basis. The living conditions in the existing informal camps are inhumane: the city council does not provide water or sanitation facilities, while also prohibiting local aid groups from distributing food. This has resulted in hundreds and hundreds of displaced families, living in harsh conditions with no direct access to any kind of service. However, a response has been offered by the great web of NGOs that provide a small though fundamental system of assistance and aid to refugees.
The UK's multi million-pound contributions to reinforce border security have perpetuated a cycle where France, dependent on this funding, enforces strict measures against migrants. The financial support is contingent on the effective criminalization of migrants and the maintenance of a hostile environment. This system absolves the UK of its humanitarian responsibilities, forcing migrants who have no desire to stay in France to seek extremely risky alternatives - such as smuggling and trafficking - in order to cross the Channel.
In this context, it becomes clear how bold actions should be implemented, bringing together a multi-level collaboration between British officials, European institutions, French authorities and civil society. This proposal focuses on the need to improve the living conditions of migrants in Calais, not merely as an act of compassion but as an investment towards a new beginning for French citizens linked with the future of migrants.
To fully address the topic, the authors present a fresh perspective on the topic, based on a Policy Memo Assignment completed at the London School of Economics (LSE).
It would cover 3 main pillars:
1 - Political Mobilization (and Advocacy Campaign).
Use the upcoming EP elections to mobilize the public and conduct an advocacy campaign highlighting how taxpayers’ money is spent on violent border practices and underline the disregard for human life in the previous policy stances. In a time where the stakes are high, equity appeals have proven to be remarkably effective by giving politicians stronger incentives to worry about public opinion.
2 - Formal recognition Plan and Fund Redirection.
Work with EU institutions, NGOs and British officials to craft an ambitious investment plan, redirecting funds away from militarization towards dignified living conditions and the creation of new working opportunities. The argument is that policies blocking efficient legal pathways for seeking asylum create conditions that play directly into the hands of human traffickers. To do so, actively engage in streamlining formal recognition of refugees, extend the “EU Blue Card” eligibility and provide welfare benefits.
3 - City Revitalization
The main goal is to offer a new future for refugees and French citizens. Therefore, the proposal should be framed as a broader reform package to revitalize Calais and Dunkerque, framing the inclusion of refugees as an opportunity for the future of French cities. Building formation centers, hybrid working plans and strategic projects to attract private investments.
In conclusion, overcoming this crisis involves removing incentives for illegal crossings and trafficking by providing legal and swift entry into the UK, prioritizing non-violent approaches, and ensuring adequate living conditions for migrants. While the challenge may seem daunting, it's vital to recognize our moral duty in addressing the suffering of those enduring degrading conditions. At last, each involved actor benefits from addressing this issue collaboratively, fostering a positive reputation for upholding human rights conventions.
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