Vulnerable people are being oppressed on our doorstep – by the British and French Governments

I’ve come back from the greatest emotional rollercoaster I’ve ever dealt with.

I spent three weeks in Northern France volunteering with an educational charity working in the refugee camps surrounding the channel ports.

It’s incredibly hard to believe but in Western Europe, merely a stone’s throw from the British coast, thousands of people are barely managing to survive, deprived of their basic rights, harassed by a supposedly progressive government and all for the crime of fleeing the most harrowing situations on the planet and trying to build a better life. And worse of all we’re paying for it.

Yes, really. British taxpayers’ money is being ploughed into the French riot police, the CRS, all in the name of ‘border security. They are using that money to make life a living hell for some of the most vulnerable people on the planet. Whilst I was in France, volunteers were witnessing so called evictions on a daily basis.

This meant destruction of the little possessions that the refugees posses, rounding families up and abandoning them miles away from settlements in the middle of nowhere and often involved the use of tear gas against defenceless peaceful people.

As disgusting as this is, state violence is not only limited to vulnerable refugees. NGOs working to fulfil these peoples basic human rights are subject to frequent harassment.

Imagine that in the heart of Western Europe, charity aid workers being subjected to police harassment and obstruction. For what? Daring to stand up for basic human decency.

We may not see the daily reports that we saw during the height of the so called crisis but make no mistake today, right now both the Britsh and French governments are actively oppressing some of the most vulnerable people on the planet right on our doorstep. And they are getting away with it.

Editor’s Note: Euan went to France with the School Bus Project. You can donate to their work here. 

* Euan Davidson is Councillor for Corstorphine/Murrayfield in Edinburgh. He is the former PPC for Aberdeen North and East Lothian and a previous President of the Scottish Young Liberals.

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  • Steve Trevethan 5th Oct '18 - 1:55pm

    Thank you for a most moving, relevant and, I hope, Party motivating piece!

  • Maybe it’s time some people took off their rose tinted Macron spectacles.

  • nvelope2003 6th Oct '18 - 9:27am

    Truly appalling

  • Personally, I’d like to see more done to help refugees. The problem is that governments are elected and voters don’t seem to want that. People talk about the rise of populism, but it’s more down to a collapse in an essentially post-1992 political consensus that failed economically and socially. Wars of regime change have not made the world more stable or liberal. They’ve simple displaced millions of people and hardened hearts.

  • The solution to this is straightforward. Applicants for
    refuge status have the legal right under international law to apply to any country for refugee status. Since the people concerned want to apply here, admit them to refugee camps in Britain, rapidly process their applications for refugee status and then either grant them protection (if they are bona fide and qualify for it) OR deport them rapidly to their countries of origin (if they don’t). This is what we would have to do were it a land border and there is no reason not to do the same just because it is a sea border.

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