A new, bigger, higher fence will not solve the migrant problem

A man carrying water containers in the migrant camp known as the new Jungle in Calais, France on Thursday July 30, 2015. Photo: Yui Mok/PA Wire
A man carrying water containers in the migrant camp known as the new Jungle in Calais, France on Thursday July 30, 2015. Photo: Yui Mok/PA Wire

Once again, migrants trying to reach the UK via France are hitting the headlines.

David Cameron has been strident in his warnings that Britain will not be a ‘safe haven’. The prime minister is apparently concerned that British holiday makers should be able to go on holiday unhindered.

Ross Brown, Green Party councillor in Belfast

Ross Brown, Green Party councillor in Belfast

Meanwhile, Mr Farage has called for something ‘radical’ to be done. But what is Farage really saying in this statement? To me this is aggressive language and indicates Ukip’s preference to treat desperate people in a hostile and inhuman way.

In the midst of media hysteria about thousands of frantic people storming the Channel Tunnel, I would like you to stop and think. Why are people so desperate to leave their homes, to abandon friends and family?

I suggest that many of them are escaping conflict and oppressive regimes and from areas of extreme poverty. This is a complex and ongoing problem, so short-term responses based on deterrents alone is deeply flawed.

We also know that climate change is already a driver for some of this migration and unless urgent action is taken it will displace hundreds of millions of people and dwarfing anything previously experienced in human history. In spite of this both Ukip and the Tories are actively working against renewable energy solutions.

A new, bigger, higher, more expensive fence will not solve the problem.

There is a crisis of inadequate accommodation for asylum seekers in France. Thus many have no shelter from the cold or rain, no access to sanitation and limited access to running water. Many depend on food provided by local organisations and volunteers.

It is not unreasonable to call on France to do more to resolve the situation; however the Green Party would call on France, and the British Government, to take a humanitarian approach and work with local agencies on the ground to ensure that our fellow human beings are afforded basic dignity and respect, free from the threat of abuse.

Yes, something needs to be done. And that something must include a long term approach that tackles the cause of immigration – the civil unrest, the persecution, the famine and hunger.

• Ross Brown is a Green Party councillor in Belfast