Migrant camp 'built up false expectation'

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The Independent Online

A refugee group hit out today at the "horrific" treatment of immigrants at the Jungle camp in Calais and said it should never be repeated.

Refugee Action said the camp, which became home to hundreds of mainly Afghan asylum seekers, had allowed "false expectation" to be built up.

Hundreds of police officers swooped to clear the site this morning.

Sandy Buchan, chief executive of the London-based group, said: "The French government should have taken responsibility. When people turn up as individuals, they should be admitted to the asylum stream. If there are applicants with strong links to Britain or various other countries, they should be admitted to the asylum system there.

"This should never be allowed to happen again. They should never have been allowed to rot there like this. It's appalling neglect and has allowed false expectation to be built up."

Speaking of this morning's clearing of the site, he said: "It's horrific because, once you start dealing with crowds, the opportunity to be humane just isn't there.

"The lesson of this is not to let it happen again."

Amnesty International spokeswoman Sarah Green told Sky: "The system of asylum seeking we have in Britain is already a strong one.

"What we are looking at here is about France deciding, quite suddenly, overnight it seems, to evict people from their homes. Even if they are dirty and ramshackle, they are still their homes."

Donna Covey, chief executive of the Refugee Council, told Sky News: "What we want to see is Britain and France working together to identify those in the Jungle who are vulnerable and get them help, primarily in France but also in Britain.

"Asylum seekers are people fleeing war zones and persecution. I think it's really important that people understand the difference between asylum seekers and economic migrants. Some of the people in Calais are asylum seekers."

A Refugee Council spokeswoman added: "This isn't a problem that's going to go away. The closure of the camp is dealing with the symptom rather than the cause.

"The main thing from this morning is we hope that all the people, including the very vulnerable, like women and children on their own who are trying to get to a place of safety, are given access to an asylum system.

"This is a European-wide problem which needs a solution at European level."