France

Calais : the story of a wild “jungle”

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By Sylvia Revello, translated by Gwénaëlle Janiaud

“Rural camp” turned “jungle”: Calais’s refugee camp recently acquired a reputation as “France’s first slum”. The French authorities have spent weeks demolishing the camp. The site, located near the Channel Tunnel, spans several hundred hectares and shelters 3,500-6,000 migrants who have mainly travelled from Syria, Afghanistan, Sudan and Eritrea. Shacks, tents and other makeshift shelters that up until now housed more than 1,000 migrants in the southern part of the camp were torn down by bulldozers and anti-riot police. After a few tense days, which were marked by violent clashes between migrants, activists campaigning against border controls and the police, the evacuation process appears to have been carried out peacefully. As flames slowly engulf the wooden and corrugated iron walls of the migrants’ shacks, some are denouncing this bitter episode, which has done nothing to resolve the migrant crisis. Read the rest of this entry »

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The European Union: Outmanoeuvred by a Populist Century?

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by Frederick Brock

The number of asylum-seekers who reach the Southern coasts of Europe has soared dramatically since last year as numerous violent conflicts such as the one in Syria continue to force migration. Image source: Flickr/ Royal Navy Media Archive (Creative Commons)
The number of people reaching the Southern coasts of Europe in search for asylum has soared dramatically since last year. Image source: Flickr/ Royal Navy Media Archive (Creative Commons).

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Husein, recently criticised a columnist in a British tabloid for ‘inciting racial hatred’ and referring to migrants attempting the Mediterranean crossing as ‘cockroaches.’ [1] The tabloid in question has the widest readership of any paper in Britain. The High Commissioner went on to compare the xenophobia in elements of the British press as akin to that found in propaganda produced by Rwandan media outlets prior to the genocide in the 1990’s. Self-evidently such sentiment has no place in any society that professes to be civilised, however the increasing confidence and impunity with which those not simply on the fringes of the political spectrum, but the mainstream as well, attack migrants is a worrying development for all in Europe. Our history as a continent is an illustration of where divisive, anti-migrant and nationalist rhetoric can lead. The modern migrant crisis, with 1 in every 122 people displaced due to war, environmental pressures and state oppression, is a situation unprecedented in the years since the formation of the European Union. [2] This article will consider the potential havoc the invocation of resurgent nationalist identities across the continent, partially in response to this crisis, could cause to one of the biggest political projects in the modern world: the European Union.

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European Socialism: An Identity Crisis?

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By Frederick Brock

Photo by permission from Socialist Party, USA
Photo by permission from Socialist Party, USA

In recent years the socialist movements of Western Europe have been relatively quiet. Europe has experienced a significant economic crisis leading to unrest, uncertainty and usurpation by pre-crisis minority parties. Historically, turbulence such as this has acted as a catalyst for the emergence of radical movements and innovative ideas. This article focuses upon the apparent absence of these movements and ideas in contemporary socialism, considering three countries in detail: France, the United Kingdom and Spain.

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France is alone in the Central African Republic

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By Juliette Darrousez and Julie Seemann-Ricard, translated by Charlotte Grey

From the very beginning, France has made international mobilisation in the Central African Republic a priority. In November 2013, Laurent Fabius, Minister for Foreign Affairs, announced that “France will be there” and “it will act so that the Central African Republic can hope again”. Operation Sangaris’ goal was to break the cycle of violence in the Central African Republic, and then give humanitarian aid to victims. The “anti-balakas” militia, created to defend the Séléka, have effectively lost sight of their initial goal and started targeting civilians. Read the rest of this entry »

No solutions to the machete in the Central African Republic

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by Simon Rousseau, translated by Charlotte Grey

Central African Republic support

The storm blowing across the Central African Republic is nothing new. Indeed, since its independence in 1960, the country has been in the grip of serious political and humanitarian crises which are hardly suitable conditions for sorting out the incredibly bad economy. The storm became a hurricane in March 2013 when Séléka rebels – predominantly Muslims – ousted President Bozizé, leading to a period of unprecedented violence. Christians, initially persecuted by militant ex-Séléka fighters, have seen Christian anti-balakas respond to the abuse with their own acts of violence. This has resulted in hostile attitudes towards predominantly Muslim Chadian Central Africans. Read the rest of this entry »