It is happening again. There was never much chance that bulldozing the Jungle camp near Calais would “solve” the refugee crisis, and so it is proving.
Child refugees who previously found accommodation elsewhere in France are drifting back to the Channel ports. Refused – for whatever reason – entry to the UK, they are making their way to Calais and Dunkirk. There they provide a consumer base – raw material – for the people smugglers. These children and adolescents invariably have money, but that simply leaves them still more open to exploitation.
And so it is that they are appearing in the back of lorries in the Kent countryside en route to unknown depredations in Britain. Since the Government – callously – abandoned the Dubs scheme to settle 3,000 children, with barely a tenth of that number rescued, the flow is bound to increase.
Although Isis is apparently entering the endgame for its evil caliphate, the wars in Iraq and Syria are far from over. Instability, cruelty and plain economic despair meanwhile are pushing still many more thousands out of west and eastern Africa toward Libya – where many perish attempting to cross the desert – to the Mediterranean and Europe. As spring turns to summer, there is every chance that this flow will surge again – refugee numbers probably peaked in 2016, but there remains a substantial population in limbo in Europe.
As we report today, there is a parallel and sometimes linked issue of migration management into the United States and from Canada now, as well as Mexico. Walls and even sea barriers are proving little deterrent to those who feel they have no hope and are prepared to gamble all they own – and life itself – on the chance of getting asylum.
This failure to face the facts of the child refugee crisis is why it continues to drag on. Such is the volume of people moving – the largest since the Second World War – that it is unstoppable. Nations such as Hungary and Serbia may try to push them back or detain them; Germany and Sweden offer help and a future; Turkey is offering its own version of cooperation. But until the "push factors" – a euphemism for war, rape and hunger – subside, the refugees will keep trying. How long will Britain continue to turn its back on them?