Most men in the Calais camp ‘aren’t refugees’
UK Islamic charity finds 95% want to come here to make money
THE chief of an Islamic charity is set to pull the plug on aid to the Calais ‘Jungle’ camp after discovering most people there are economic migrants with no reason to leave their home countries. The Bradford-based Human Relief Foundation had claimed they were ‘all fleeing war and significant atrocities’.
But a team led by Kassim Tokan, the Islamic foundation’s deputy chief executive, discovered a totally different picture. Unwanted clothing and food was being dumped and burnt by the migrants.
Instead of vulnerable families fighting for survival, he found ‘95 to 97 per cent’ of the 4,000 inhabitants were men.
Interviewed by ITV’s Calendar News, Mr Tokan admitted he was surprised by what he found. Asked if his charity would withdraw support for the camp’s inhabitants, he said: ‘Most likely, yes.’
He said it would be better to help people in genuine need in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.
Mr Tokan, who heads the international charity’s orphan and family programmes, said many migrants in Calais had no valid reason for going to the UK and should have stayed at home.
He said: ‘They have enough food, they have enough clothes and we have seen clothes everywhere thrown. We need to find other places. These people come from certain countries which are safe, everything is there, they can work, but I don’t know why they came here.
‘Some people ... haven’t any valid reason. They want to leave their country without any reason. They want to go (to the UK) to get money, a better economic situation.’
A HRF spokesman said yesterday that its presence at the camp would be maintained, but with an emphasis on building kitchens and portable shower units instead of on food and clothing.
Politicians and commentators on both sides of the Channel have long argued that the Calais camps are mainly populated by economic migrants.
France’s former employment minister Xavier Bertrand is one of many who said the Jungle was full of mostly young men attracted by Britain’s black-market jobs, rather than desperate families fleeing war and persecution.
A refugee aid worker attached to one of the major charities working in Calais told the Mail yesterday that the migrants were primarily interested in getting hold of ‘phones, cash and any practical equipment which will make their journeys to Britain easier’.
She added: ‘The tiny number of women with babies are well looked after in centres nearby. The men in the camps don’t need children’s clothes and the like. Those kind of donations are got rid of straight away.’
The Human Relief Foundation has eight offices around the world. A member of the Muslim Charities Forum, it has an annual income of around £3million. The charity’s Path of Mercy project stated on its website that ‘most of the refugees in the camp are highly vulnerable people’ fleeing war.
It added: ‘Due to the conflict, many people have faced and con- tinue to face injury, disability, torture, starvation, neglect and poor mental health.’
Meanwhile, European Council president Donald Tusk says the influx of migrants to Europe has become a ‘political bargaining chip’. In an address to the European Parliament in Strasbourg yesterday, the former Polish prime minister said: ‘Some [of our neighbours] look with satisfaction at our troubles.
‘For us, refugees are specific people, individuals, who expect our help. There are forces around us however, for whom the wave of refugees is just dirty business or a political bargaining chip.
‘We are slowly becoming witnesses to the birth of a new form of political pressure, and some even call it a kind of a new hybrid war, in which migratory waves have become a tool, a weapon against neighbours.’
Mr Tusk appeared to deride Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to ignore EU migration rules by allowing all Syrians to claim asylum in Germany.
The ‘Wilkommen politik’ he said had acted as a magnet attracting people to Europe, but he warned it was wrong to ‘invite everyone willing to come, despite being unable to take them under our roof’.
Mr Tusk said that Mrs Merkel had demonstrated ‘ beautiful moral gestures’.
‘Kitchens and portable shower units’