Lorry drivers, farmers and many Calais locals are on strike today, calling for an end date to the Calais “Jungle” Refugee Camp. They claim that refugees trying to get on lorries are destroying the livelihood of truck drivers and putting an unnecessary and ongoing strain on the lives of people in Calais.
However, it is the policies of the central French and UK government that are directly harming Refugees, Calais citizens and Truck drivers alike. Lorry drivers face fines from the UK government as high as £2,000 per “illegal migrant” found hiding in their trucks, the total bill for UK haulage firms can run into millions. Home Office figures show more than 3,300 fines were issued in 2014/15 – that’s an increase of more than 50% on the previous year.
Not only does this situation threaten truck drivers’ livelihoods, finding refugees or migrants suffocated in the back of a lorry can cause unimaginable mental trauma.
Some refugees have been victims of hit and runs involving trucks, the vast majority of truckers just want to be able to continue doing their vital job, in safety.
While the Jungle is not a suitable solution for it’s thousands of inhabitants, it should not be destroyed until there is adequate alternative facilities for the 9,106 people, including 865 children, currently living in the camp.