The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Channel Tunnel:
Another Cemetery for Immigrants

Aug 3, 2015

This article is from the July 31st issue of Lutte Ouvrière (Workers Struggle), the paper of the revolutionary workers group of that name active in France.

During the night of July 27, 2,200 immigrants tried to enter the French side of the Channel Tunnel at Calais. There have been similar photos of immigrants trying to force their way past the fences at Melilla, a part of Spanish Morocco. The inhumane situation of these immigrants explains the desperate attempts they have made.

On July 22, a young Eritrean woman was struck by a car while trying to enter the tunnel. Four weeks earlier, another young woman was killed under similar conditions. An Ethiopian immigrant was found dead in the retention basin of the tunnel, he was only 17 years old.

More than 10 immigrants have died in similar circumstances since the first of June. All were fleeing the extreme misery they faced in their countries of origin, ravaged by war. People from Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia are the majority of these victims.

The French and British governments throw more and more forces to try to prevent these immigrants from entering the Channel Tunnel at Calais, chasing desperate people in what the governments call the “jungle” at Calais. But nothing has dissuaded men and women from risking their lives to get through.

By contrast, these events serve as a pretext to raise the fees on the Channel crossing. The stockholders of the Euro-tunnel cynically claim almost 10 million euros in compensation for “losses and supplementary costs due to the influx of immigrants.” These bosses explain that thanks to the immigrants they ought to be allowed to erect additional barriers, which would increase by a third the amount of compensation they claim.

In 2000, this business group already demanded compensation for the same reasons. A tribunal awarded them an estimated 24 million euros for their “losses.”

Their revolting cynicism passes all estimations.