Title: The Calais Chaos: Is it the time to set up a new global forced migrant organization (GFMO)؟
Author: Tarig Misbah Yousif
Date: 08-22-2015, 07:12 PM
07:12 PM Aug, 22 2015
Tarig Misbah Yousif-
My Library at SudaneseOnline
Like many others, I was appalled and flabbergasted while watching the harrowing scenes at the "Jungle" make-shift camp in the city port of Calais where over three thousand 'would-be' refugees and other migrants live in shocking conditions. Reports indicate that at least ten of them lost their lives, not to mention racist attacks carried out by some Neo-Nazi Morons.
Events unfolding in northern France, is another stark reminder of the desperate need of 'would-be' refugees for a more fairer alternative to the Euro-centric refugee protection regime. Indeed the case of Calais is tantamount to sounding the death knell of the global refugee protection regime in Europe, the birthplace of what has become known human rights.
Apparently, Europe is at war with what they term (illegal migrants), many of whom survived the perilous journey across the Mediterranean on board traffickers' unseaworthy ships (Yousif: 2015*). The case of Calais is another aide memoire of the scale of forced migration which has reached unparallel proportions over the last few years. The onslaught in Syria which has been ongoing since 2011, the slide of Libya into anarchy in the aftermath of the capture and killing of Ghadaffi in October 2011 and human rights violations in many parts of the globe have forced desperate victims to end up in places like Calais.
From the perspective of the international refugee law, the treatment of those encamped in Calais, most of them fled countries riddled by civil wars and blatant human rights violations, amounts to violating Article 33,1.of the 1951 UN Refugee Convention.:-
'No Contracting State shall expel or return ('refouler') a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened.....'(Article 33,1. The 1951 UN Refugee Convention).
Needless to say, the significance of this Article emanates from the fact that it is meant to be a safeguard against forcible deportation and a guarantee against expulsion while asylum claims are being processed. In the case of Calais, we are confronted with an egregious situation; asylum seekers are not allowed to apply for refugee status in France, and Britain is unwilling to allow open its borders for those who are desperately seeking protection (both countries are parties to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention).
Let us move on to see the reaction of UNHCR to the Calais catastrophe. Below is an excerpt of a press briefing made by the spokesperson of the UN Refugee Agency, Fleming Melissa:-
'UNHCR remains concerned at the dire living and reception conditions in the makeshift sites around Calais. We encourage the French authorities to gradually relocate people from the current informal settlements and provide them, as is the case in most European countries, adequate reception conditions in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region as well as in other locations. It is also essential to address the current significant delays for those who want to apply for asylum in France. 07 August, 2015, http://www.unhcr.org/55c49b639.htmlhttp://www.unhcr.org/55c49b639.html
However, UNHCR’s spokesperson 'soft' statement on Calais is a disgrace in comparison with statements issued by UNHCR when refugee rights are violated by a 'non-donating' developing country. Below is a statement made last year by the same UNHCR's Spokesperson when the Sudanese government deported a number of Eritrean asylum seekers:-
'The deportations represented an “act of repression” and could place the lives of those expelled in grave danger. Such deportations of asylum-seekers amount to refoulement and constitute a serious violation of the 1951 Refugee Convention, as well as the 2014 Sudanese Asylum Act,” said Fleming. Eritrea is a country of concern - people leaving Eritrea are in need of international protection, as their lives would be in danger if they were to be returned. The UNHCR has urged the Sudanese government to uphold international law and asylum seekers immediate access to asylum procedures and protection from refoulement'. (Sudan Tribune, 9 July 2014).
The above statements have revealed the UNHCR's discriminatory approach. If the offender happens to be an important donor country such as Britain, UNHCR uses soft words such as 'encourage' and 'remain concerned'. Forceful condemnations and 'naming and shaming' will only be directed to weak developing nations.
It goes without saying that wherever UNHCR started a refugee relief operation, particularly in the developing nations, too often they ended up dealing with protracted refugee situations (Eritrean refugees in Sudan, Somali in Kenya, Rwandese in Uganda, Afghans i n Pakistan...the list goes on). The point is that UNHCR has been unsuccessful in carrying out its mandate, particularly the part relating to finding permanent solutions to the problems of refugees as stated in its1950 Statute.
In summary, the case of Calais has visibly demonstrated that there is a sore need for alternative global protection and humanitarian regimes capable of protecting and assisting refugees and other forced migrants. Financial autonomy will be key to the success of any future international system as UNHCR's keenness to shy away from criticising its major donor countries when they mistreat 'would be refugees' has negatively affected its performance.
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