World | Europe

September 26, 2016

Calais camp will be completely dismantled, says French president

French President Francois Hollande says the controversial makeshift migrant camp known as "The Jungle" in Calais will be completely dismantled.
French President Francois Hollande says migrant camp known as "The Jungle" will be dismantled

French President Francois Hollande says migrant camp known as "The Jungle" will be dismantled

During a visit to the northern city on Monday, Hollande said France will carry out a "full and final" dismantlement of the camp, where thousands of displaced people live in squalid conditions.

President Francois Hollande visited Calais, the northern French port which is home to the sprawling "Jungle" migrant camp.

"From now on our objectives are clear -- to guarantee the security of the people of Calais, maintain public order and ensure for the migrants and refugees conditions are dignified," Hollande said.

He said he was in Calais to tell the "desperate immigrants" that they will not remain in the camp because "their place is not here."

He added that the government would "protect them as much as necessary."

Hollande said there are at least 7,000 migrants living in the area, according to the latest figures, which were released in August. According to the Calais spokesperson from the Ministry of the Interior, there are 900 unaccompanied minors living within the camp when aid organization France Terre d'Asile (FTDA) last counted.

French authorities have said they are creating up to 12,000 places in small centers across the country to cater for those removed from Calais. The capacity of each center will vary from 100 to 300 people.

Calais: Major UK entry point

The camp is notorious for being a major transit point for migrants, who often hop onto the back of UK-bound cargo trucks in the hope of entering the country. Many in "The Jungle" are reluctant to register as refugees in France because their preferred destination is Britain.

Migrants walk past make-shift shops and shelters by the Jungle Books Cafe at the Jungle migrant camp in Calais, France.

Hollande also called on France's neighbor to support the clearance plan. "I also wish to repeat my determination in seeing the British authorities show their participation in what France is doing," he said.

He said that despite the UK taking a "sovereign decision" to free itself "from its obligations with regards to France" he still believed that the country was bound by its commitments to its neighbors and the EU.

Hollande is not expected to visit the camp during his visit to Calais. Instead, he will meet with security forces, lawmakers and business representatives.

Earlier this month the UK announced it would build a "big new wall" in the French port city as a further attempt to prevent refugees and migrants from entering Britain, British Immigration Minister Robert Goodwill said.

The four-meter (13-foot) high wall was part of a £17 million ($23 million) deal struck between Britain and France earlier this year.
Goodwill said that despite the current security measures -- which also included a fence -- some people were still managing to get through to the UK.

"The security we're putting in at the ports is being stepped up with better equipment. We're going to start building this big new wall very soon as part of the £17 million package that we're doing with the French," he said.

The decision came with controversy as British truck drivers criticized it as a "poor use of taxpayers' money."

Calais, areal view, August 2016

Text by CNN
 

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