Professor Cathryn Costello appeared on BBC News on Monday 29 February to discuss the situation at the commonly referred to ‘Jungle’ camp at Calais, which the French authorities are in the process of dismantling. When asked whether the refugees’ and migrants’ “dream of getting to the UK” is now over, she responded that this will depend on the individuals concerned: “We know that there are unaccompanied minors with family members in the UK who have a strong legal entitlement to enter the UK… For others, they may claim asylum in France and they may be advised that that’s in their interest.” However, she said, if people are recognised as refugees in France this does not give them the right to move to the UK, where they may wish to live due to existing networks and familiarity with the language. She said, “it’s wrong to imagine that all asylum seekers or refugees are trying to get to the UK, but those…in Calais…often have very strong reasons [for doing so] and those are often reasons that the law should recognise, and does recognise if procedures were working properly.” She added that procedures for family reunification, for example, should be quite easy to put in place – the procedures ‘exist on paper’.
Addressing the wider crisis, Professor Costello said “one of the problems with how we are managing the refugee crisis is that we have a system which insists that people claim asylum including in countries that they don’t particularly want to live, rather than setting up more equitable distribution systems, and so that creates all sorts of perverse incentives… A better way of managing the wider situation has to be a cooperative one where mechanisms are put in place to allocate responsibility across different countries.”
She argued that the irregular journeys made by individuals to countries to seek asylum are the product of our border controls and the fact that people are unable to make their first journey into the EU legally: “we don’t have humanitarian visas to allow asylum seekers to travel, let’s say, from Turkey to the UK, or from Turkey to France, so we’ve illegalised refugees and thereby imagine that we’re making it difficult to claim asylum but it’s just produced a lot of irregular migration and a bonanza for smugglers.”
Watch the full interview here >>