Frontier police forces in northern France are complaining of the huge strain they are working under caused by migrants attempting to reach Britain. Numbers released earlier this week show they have detained 18,170 migrants in or around Calais already this year, more than double the figure for the whole of 2014 and four times the number in 2013.
The Mirror reports that police find stowaways aboard lorries and Channel Tunnel trains as well as Britain-bound ferries. Johann Cavallero, police union spokesman for Calais, told the newspaper the high figures take into account some migrants being arrested up to three times in one day, adding:
“We know how many we catch but we do not know how many we don’t. We catch a migrant in a lorry, and turn him back. Then half an hour later we can catch the same man again.”
The Mayor of Calais, Natacha Bouchart, blames Britain for the unprecedented immigration crisis, citing generous benefits coupled with an unregulated economy as the reason for the situation. They arrive in her town looking to cross the Channel only to discover that the border is closed and the only route across involves dangerously stowing away on a lorry or a train.
Bouchart’s answer to the question is to open the British border for travellers arriving from Europe to help move the migrants away from Calais. She said:
“They want to go to England because they can expect better conditions on arrival there than anywhere else in Europe or even internationally. There are no ID cards. They can easily find work outside the formal economy, which is not really controlled.
“Calais is a hostage to the British. The migrants come here to get to Britain. The situation here is barely manageable. The UK border should be moved from Calais to the English side of the Channel because we’re not here to do their jobs.”
The Times reports a camp housing 2,500 migrants which opened outside Calais this year. It had the tacit approval of local authorities hoping it might provide a humanitarian shelter on the town’s outskirts replacing squats in the town centre.
Known as the New Jungle, the makeshift tarpaulin tents house inhabitants facing hunger, filth, racism and violence. Residents claim to suffer regular police beatings.
The newspaper reports that rather than offering a safe haven the New Jungle convinces migrants of France’s intolerance compared with Britain — “the land of freedom, human rights, science and law”, in the words of Mohamed, a 39-year-old Libyan who crossed the Mediterranean and entered France from Italy. He is one of many to make the journey using trafficking gangs charging thousands of dollars for the dangerous journey.
“We all thought we’d find human rights here in France,” Dawood, a 26 year old Sudanese migrant told The Times, “but so far we haven’t seen any human rights at all. We know that England will be much better.”