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From: The Socialist issue 922, 26 October 2016: Protest and strike to save our NHS

Search site for keywords: Calais - Asylum - Children - Refugee - France - Britain - Cuts - Housing

'Jungle' camp destruction: Defend the right to asylum

Tamil Solidarity activists marching for refugees' rights, 17.9.16, photo Senan

Tamil Solidarity activists marching for refugees' rights, 17.9.16, photo Senan   (Click to enlarge)

Vladimir Bortun

The French authorities have started the eviction and demolition of the 'Jungle' camp in Calais.

Thousands of people have been living there in squalid conditions over the last couple of years, desperately hoping to be granted asylum in the UK - whether because they have family links here or because they can speak the language.

Most of them have fled from Middle Eastern and African countries torn by war and brutal dictatorships, all of which owe a great deal to the various imperialist interventions by Western powers such as Britain and France.

Millions more Syrians and Iraqis that have escaped vicious sectarian wars are stuck in camps in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. It was recently revealed that many refugee children in Turkey are being exploited in sweatshops, making goods for high street retailers in Britain.

The 8,000 or more migrants now living in the Jungle cannot be deported back to Libya (the last country they left before reaching Europe), which is still a failed state five years after the Western military intervention. Instead, they will be settled in temporary and improvised centres across France where they can reportedly apply for asylum.

At the same time, the French authorities have been asking their British counterparts to take in 500 unaccompanied children who say they have family in the UK.

At the very last minute, the Tory government reluctantly agreed to take in 200 children, but much more needs to be done.

The fundamental right to asylum must be respected for those fleeing war and persecution - children and adults alike.

The anti-refugee argument that public services here are strained because of refugees, means that defending the right to asylum has to go hand-in-hand with opposing the cuts in public services and fighting for more social housing, better schools and a fully funded NHS - which we socialists do on a daily basis.

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