Displaced refugees try to find home in Europe

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Creative Commons image through Flcikr by Gerry Lynch

The English Channel is vast and beautiful, it borders the UK and France. Refugees have been trying to cross to get to the UK but the mission has proven dangerous.

Charli Burdick-Kitchell, Graphic Editor and Copy Editor

Another migration crisis could be building up in Europe and people are worried. Past events from 2015 seem to be repeating and driving an influx of migrations across Europe and the Middle East. With a new election in six months and certain events happening, immigration has been pushed to the forefront in politics.

In the last week of Nov. 27, immigrants were found after being involved in a boating accident, and drowned when trying to cross the English channel to get to the U.K. Immigrants have been passing through France to get to the U.K. They have been building camps while they either wait for a train to get to the U.K. or wait for smugglers to take them on tiny inflatable boats to cross the English Channel. Border controls in France are being tightened to try and stop the dangerous migration, but it has been proven hard with 650km (403.9 miles) on France bordering the English channel, and not enough border patrol to cover it all.

It has been the RNLI’s, The Royal National Lifeboat Institution, job to rescue people but there have been some opinions that the RNLI should not help the refugees.

Steve Unwin, a lecturer at the University in Birmingham in the U.K. said, “I think they should rescue everyone for it is their job.”

“People are waiting for an opportunity to jump on a boat, jump on a ferry, or jump on a train and hide in someone’s car, they have done dangerous things such as try to cling to the outside of a train as it goes through a tunnel,” French teacher Jaqueline Parr added.

Frances’ Identity

The loss of immigrants’ lives has pushed the media to cover the immigration issue and the topic has been a repeated argument in politics. With a new election coming up in the next 6 months, all politicians running are advocating for how they will address the immigrants. France is known for having a strong sense of national identity and their “French culture” Parr said, and the media is covering it as an issue, but the population status is stable.

About 10.2% of the population is immigrants, which is low compared to other countries, such as Germany having immigrants make up 26.7% of the population and the United States has a 14.4% immigrant population. Other countries around France have been more accepting of immigrants and with France in the spotlight now they are trying to take more action to help immigrants.

“There is a lot of politicians right now and the media is kind of whooping this up. And most people are saying it is maybe not justified,” Parr said.

Immigrants are coming to European countries for new opportunities or ties with family. France has an unemployment rate of about 9% right now and they need it filled, which is why immigrants are coming looking for jobs. But France worries about its national identity being lost and does not accept a lot or enough immigrants to help the unemployment rate. The immigrants then look toward the U.K. which has been more welcoming and more tolerant of immigrants plus they can get undeclared work without identity papers.

History teacher Ryan Miller said most refugees are desperate to find work, find shelter and find an opportunity for their families that has not been available elsewhere.

It’s difficult when countries start playing politics with what to do with the refugees because then it is often the refugees that are missing out in the end.”

— Steve Unwin

Refugees Doings

The refugees had been setting up camps, “they are almost like little villages” Parr described, these camps have been torn down by the French government and rebuilt again. The government does not like them because they are not a way to live they say but then why does the government not try to provide other housing for them? There have been homes built for them, old orphanages have been converted to a safe houses for the refugees to stay, learn french, and try to “fold” into French society. But most of the refugees are men from as young as 13 years olds, and the neighborhoods have been less trusting of the men, if they were more families they would be more ready to adapt and welcome the refugees in.

“It’s difficult when countries start playing politics with what to do with the refugees because then it is often the refugees that are missing out in the end,” Unwin said.

European countries are ready to accept refugees and most of them are, but the refugees are coming faster than they can accept at a time. If European countries can start providing more supplies and resources to the refugees if they can not accept asylum would help a lot of refugees from freezing on streets and paying to be smuggled somewhere else in hopes of finding a home. Unwin explained that the U.K. social services provide very thought out care to the immigrants settling there (it is not always clear cut but when it works it does better than most), it is just the getting their part that has proven dangerous.

“I think in the immediate future, whatever funding can be given to make sure basic human needs are being met would be huge. Then long term there has to be a policy discussion on who is going to take how many immigrants and quotas about immigrants in nations. Whether it’s skilled labor or unskilled labor but getting more policies in place to support future immigration because immigration will continue,” Miller said.