President Emmanuel Macron vowed Tuesday that France would not allow another migrant camp like the infamous “Jungle” to spring up in the port of Calais.
“In no case will we allow another Jungle here,” he said in a speech in the northern city, as his government puts pressure on Britain to contribute more to dealing with migrants seeking to cross the Channel.
“Everything is being done to prevent illegal crossings,” Macron said, saying Calais must not be used as an “entry door” to Britain.
The government of Macron’s Socialist predecessor Francois Hollande dismantled the Jungle — a squalid camp that at its height was home to some 10 000 people — in October 2016.
But hundreds of people continue to camp out in Calais, hoping to stow away on trucks heading to Britain, a destination seen as an El Dorado by some migrants from Afghanistan and East Africa.
After reports of heavy-handed policing of the migrants who remain in Calais, Macron said police had to be “exemplary” in their treatment of people who have fled war and poverty in search of a better life.
He denounced the use of tear gas and physical violence against migrants, as well as reports that migrants have had their property confiscated — saying this could not be allowed.
And he called on pro-migrant groups to act “responsibly”, accusing some of them of encouraging people to stay in the area and attempt to reach Britain.
Macron was expected to lay out demands in Calais for Britain to take in more refugees from northern France and increase its funding for securing the border.
At stake is a 2003 agreement which effectively moved the UK border onto French territory, meaning the area around Calais has become a bottleneck for migrants hoping to cross to England.
© Agence France-Presse