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MIGRANTS


Recently there has been a rise in the number of migrants attempting to cross the channel in small boats [1000 this year as compared to 300 last]. They are trying to escape poverty, persecution, war or famine in countries such as Iran, Eritrea, Afghanistan and Sudan.


Groups gather in makeshift camps in Northern France waiting for an opportunity to get to the UK. French police have been criticised for their ‘rough treatment’ but if the migrants persist they are often persuaded by people smugglers into paying £450 each to board a boat. Often 30 people are packed into an inflatable meant for 6 and many are stopped by the French coastguard and returned to France. If, however they are able to dodge the authorities and the heavy sea traffic in the channel they may finally get to the UK.


Here they will be met by a slow bureaucratic process. This prevents them from working and places them in ‘temporary accommodation‘. This can be inadequate, cramped and insanitary, so much so that some asylum seekers are saying of the government “This is part of the hostile environment..... It is as if they are sending the message to us saying, If you can’t take it here, go home”.


THE NUMBERS

The overall migrant numbers worldwide have doubled between 2010 and 2016 rising from 33.9m to 67.7m. Also in just 57 years the world population has grown from 3.0 to 7.5 billion. This means that for every one person alive in 1960 there were two and a half in 2017. Such rapid rises in both sets of numbers have made people fearful and have helped promote the closing of borders and the building of walls and fences. Perhaps we should step back and ask if these measures address or resolve the problem ?


ps

A recent Guardian article reports that “off the Belgian coast, police found the body of an Iraqi migrant wearing a homemade lifejacket of empty water bottles, who had drowned while trying to swim to the UK”.