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GCN Weekly Security Brief: Spotlight on Calais


GCN Weekly Security Brief: Spotlight on Calais

Spotlight: Europe’s Migration Crisis and the Calais Junglecalais

This week efforts to clear France’s Calais Jungle began. The Jungle houses 7,000 immigrants waiting to hear if their pleas of asylum are granted by the UK.  In addition to the lure of a higher standard of living and high availability of low-skilled employment, the UK is a magnet for migrants because of English – a language more familiar than any other.

The Jungle is being destroyed because of political pressure on President Hollande who is slipping in the polls and the general agreement that living in the jungle is generally unsafe. These migrants will now leave the Jungle to other parts of France to seek asylum and if they do not, they will be deported.

At the beginning of 2015, the UN projected the number of people worldwide forcibly displaced totaled nearly 60 million – the most since World War Two. More than 60 percent of refugees in the Europe-wide refugee crisis come from countries impacted by war, civil unrest and oppressive despotic regimes and hail mainly from Syria, Eritea, Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia.

This crisis, as with all other significant refugee crises in the past, poses a particular set of perplexing security dimensions. Firstly, the physical security of the refugees themselves – as they cross oceans and deserts in search of a life free from persecution and harm, and their difficulty in acclimating to a new and often hostile environment when they reach their destination. Secondly, host countries face a challenging time of sharing resources – tensions can lead to xenophobia and potential violence.

Another party involved in the security environment is the governing bodies of the destination state. They are confronted with difficult questions of how many refugees to accept, how to select who enters and how to rehabilitate them. These decisions are made considering numerous factors such as precedent, relationship with the international community, and public opinion within their own country which often includes a growing wave of populism

The most interesting aspect of the population of refugees is that a majority of them are young men – a group which is impressionable, scarred by war and therefore, vulnerable to radicalization. Last week, while addressing the conflict in Kashmir, I called for the need to reorientate development policy towards young people to ensure a better future security environment. While the refugee crisis now is immediate and involve several players in global affairs, it may be important to also start looking at future-oriented policies instead of just focusing on the immediate ones.

Snapshots of Conflicts Around the World

The Middle East

The military offensive taking place to reclaim Mosul hasn’t reached Mosul yet after nearly 7 days. The challenge comes becomes 5000 ISIS troops await in Mosul interspersed among civilians. The U.S. reported that it dropped 1,400 munitions on Mosul over the past five days the most intense period of bombing since the beginning of 2014. In the mean while ISIS has upped their game by increasing other attacks in Iraq to help distract the Iraqi forces. How this battle will play out will be telling in the coming days.

The conflict involving Saudi Arabia and their continued attack on Yemen is largely being ignored by the media. This week a proposed ceasefire stalled. The ceasefire would have enabled humanitarian aid to be delivered to civilians. Saudi air strikes in Yemen have increased over the weekend. The situation is worsened by the conflict’s external supporters. The US support the Saudi’s and Iranians support the Yemenis.

Failed Coup in Burkina Faso

2016 has witnessed another failed coup attempt. However, it has and will continue to remain out of the popular media because it took place in obscure Burkina Faso, a landlocked sub-Saharan African country whose primary economy is agrarian (specifically cotton). There is a vacuum of information and analysis on the coup. The little we do know is that a coup was attempted by forces loyal to disposed President Blaise Compaore who was ousted out of power last year after a tyrannical 27 year- rule. Compaore is exiled in neighbouring Ivory Coast. There is predicted to be no major retribution or change of course by President Roch Marc Kabore in the coming weeks.

M. Sudhir Selvaraj

M. Sudhir Selvaraj writes the Weekly Security Brief for GCN. He is a fellow with the Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life. His interests lie in security of religious minorities, secularism, U.S. foreign policy and politics of South Asia. He is currently pursuing his doctoral studies at King’s College London. He has a master’s (with distinction) in International Relations from the Department of War Studies, King’s College London and graduated cum laude (with honors) from Concordia College, Minnesota with majors in Political Science and Global Studies and a minor in Business.

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