Why Is Britain Going Full-On Trump And Building A £2 Million Wall To Stop Refugees?
The Immigration Minister, ironically named Robert Goodwill, told MPs to construct the wall...
Donald Trump, Republican presidential nominee and Quaver given human form through dark magic, has talked a lot about building a “big, beautiful wall” between the US and Mexico. But so far, at least, he hasn’t been in a position to get any bricks trucked to the border.
That hasn’t been a problem for the British government, who have just announced they will be funding a £1.9 million wall in Calais designed to prevent refugees and other migrants jumping aboard lorries headed to the UK.
The Immigration Minister, ironically named Robert Goodwill, told MPs this week that construction on the four-metre-high, one-kilometre-long wall along the port’s main approach road would begin this month. According to The Guardian, it will be completed by the end of the year and will be made of smooth concrete to make it more difficult to scale.
So why is the UK forking out almost £2 million to build a wall in France?
It’s because Calais provides access to the English Channel, including ferries and trains bound for Britain, and is home to a refugee and migrant camp known as the ‘Jungle’ with a population of more than 7,300. Previously, some of these refugees and migrants have attempted to stow away on lorries, and the wall will block access to the main road used by these trucks.
Asylum seekers aim to move from France to the UK for a huge number of reasons, including employment prospects, the language, existing family connections, and the likelihood of a successful asylum application.
So will the construction of the so-called “Great Wall of Calais” make a difference?
Goodwill argues that even though there is a fence in place people are still getting through, so a wall is a necessary security measure. But François Guennoc of Auberge des Migrants, a French aid group working in Calais, told The Guardian:
“This wall is the latest extension to kilometres of fencing and security surveillance already in place. … When you put walls up anywhere in the world, people find ways to go round them.
“It’s a waste of money. It could make it more dangerous for people, it will push up tariffs for people smugglers and people will end up taking more risks.”
The Daily Express also reported that Sudanese refugee Erfan, told them: “We will find a way over it. I have to go to the UK and I will try anything to get there, even by boat.”
Even a UKIP MEP and a UKIP leadership candidate have questioned the value of the wall in deterring refugees and migrants in Calais from entering the UK.
How big is the refugee crisis and are we doing anything to help?
This is all happening within the context of one of the largest refugee crises the world has ever seen. According to Mercy Corps, an international development organisation, there are more than 4.7 million Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries and nearly one million have applied for asylum in Europe.
Amnesty International notes that excluding Germany and Sweden, the remaining EU countries (which still includes the UK) have pledged around 30,903 resettlement places, which is only 0.7% of the Syrian refugee population in the main host countries.
As for the UK’s place in all this, the BBC reports that Britain has received 60 asylum applications for every 100,000 UK residents. This compares to 587 for Germany and an EU average of 260.
Is it having any effect?
Britain is on course to fail in its pledge to offer resettlement to 20,000 Syrian refugees by 2020, already a small number when considering how many there are in total.
In this sense Calais represents the front line of Britain’s attempts to control its immigration, as well as a symbol of the wider refugee crisis.
Whether the wall succeeds in preventing refugees and other migrants from entering the UK using lorries or not, there is much more to be done in assisting those displaced not only by the war in Syria but by other conflicts worldwide.
What do you think? Let us know over on Twitter @MTVUK.