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Perspectives: The Demolition of the Calais “Jungle”

Being Libertarian Perspectives serves as a weekly, multi-perspective opinion and analysis piece by members of Being Libertarian’s writing team. Every week the panel, comprised of randomly selected writers, answers a question based on current events or libertarian philosophy. Managing Editor Dillon Eliassen moderates and facilitates the discussion.


Dillon Eliassen: The French government has forcibly removed refugee residents of, and razed, the “Jungle” in Calais. From CNN: “Authorities dismantled part of the camp early this year, but it failed to stop more and more migrants from arriving, with high hopes of crossing the Eurotunnel from Calais to reach the UK, just over 30 miles away. The Jungle has become a gritty symbol of Europe’s migrant crisis and has been a thorn in the French government’s side. But to a tight-knit community there, it is also a symbol of determination and resilience — more than 70 business have sprung up in the Jungle, including restaurants, cafes, bars, hairdressers and barbers, and leaving is not as simple as packing up and moving on.” What are the implications of the actions of the French authorities?

Nathaniel Owen: This is not the first time a stationary refugee camp has appeared in Calais. Calais is where one might go when trying to get to the UK, and the “Jungle” makes a good waiting spot; somewhere to stay while thinking through future plans. Like any shanty town, it doesn’t take much speculation to assume that crime was likely a problem. I say “was” because it was announced that the area is entirely clear of refugees. The fact that the refugee camp naturally spawned businesses and restaurants should be deeply considered. We’re seeing capitalism here, born from necessity.

Dillon: France’s actions seem to be driven by the UK. CNN reports, “Many have risked their lives boarding lorries to traverse the tunnel — dozens have died doing so — while others simply walked across before France and Britain agreed to build a fence and boosted security to stop the practice…Under an agreement with France, the UK has accepted 200 children from the camp since early October, British Labour MP Caroline Flint told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Monday. Home Secretary Amber Rudd said that 800 children at the camp claiming to have family ties in the UK had been interviewed in the camp by British authorities, but stressed no new arrivals would be considered.”
If I was a spokesman for the French or British governments I’d spin this as “This is for their safety.” But in reality, these refugees’ rights of freedom of movement, association and exchange are being violated.
Nathaniel: I wonder, though…who’s land are they on?
John Engle: I think an interesting takeaway is the fact that many of these refugees were welcomed by Hollande’s government, but they don’t want to live in France. It speaks to comparative levels of opportunity and tolerance perceived by refugee communities.
Nima Mahdjour: I don’t think ANYTHING going on during this refugee crisis has anything to do with the refugees’ rights of “freedom of movement.” This is all one giant government program, including the funding of terrorist groups to topple Assad (which has failed), and now they are all being herded around from place to place on the taxpayers’ dime.
The AfD in Germany is also proposing shutting down existing migrant camps in inner cities to relocate them to more remote areas. Maybe a similar motivation?
Dillon: If you worked in the French tourism industry, would you want a shanty town of unwashed masses to be the first thing British tourists see coming out of the tunnel?
“Right, look at all these Pakis. I daresay they are a ghastly sight, just dreadful. Avert your gaze, Dorothea, whilst I steer the lorrie towards a more scenic vista!”
Nima: Nope! ?
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