The European Union will give France €5 million (£3.65 million) to upgrade the Calais tent city known as “The Jungle” into a full humanitarian refugee camp for those seeking to reach Britain. At the same time the French Prime Minister announced that the Eurotunnel and ferry port sites are now “fully under control,” albeit somewhat prematurely.
Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the European Commission, pledged the extra money for the refugee camp during a joint visit to Calais with French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, reports The Daily Telegraph.
Timmermans, declared “we will never turn away those who need protection” and said the funds would go towards creating a “humanitarian camp.” When completed in 2016 it will be able properly to house 1,500 migrants. This falls far short of the currently estimated 4,000 migrants on site, predominantly Eritrean and Sudanese, living in harsh conditions.
Some of the EU funds would be used to transport genuine asylum seekers out of Calais, bussing them “to other destinations around France” for processing, with the remainder being spent on the new refugee camp.
The newly pledged money follows last year’s EU grant of €3.8 million for a day centre next to the camp. That facility allows migrants to take showers and seek advice during the day, and allows about 100 women and children to sleep in protected conditions at night.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, who was also on site, said the new camp will not be the same as the old Sangatte Red Cross welcome centre which closed in 2002 after a troubled life. Instead he claims the new camp is part of a “pragmatic” approach towards a “global” answer to the migrant crisis.
Prime Minister Valls commented: “Countries from where migration is coming must hear this message: today the Franco-UK borders are fully under control. To come to Calais is to throw yourself into a dead end.”
He also saluted Britain for spending “€35 million in three years to secure Calais port and the Eurotunnel site but also to guarantee a dignified welcome for vulnerable people.”
The EU pledge came soon after Calais Mayor Natacha Bouchart demanded €10 million to turn “The Jungle” into a “better organised refugee camp with installations allowing them to get through the winter,” similar to German refugee centres.
She said she also wants another €50 -100 million from the French government by way of “compensation” for damage caused to the image of Calais by the migrant crisis.
A few hours after Prime Minister Valls declared Calais fully secure, Eurostar services were once again delayed due to the presence of migrants outside the Eurotunnel. This came after Sunday night’s disruptions when striking trade unionists blocked ferries attempting to enter Calais with strategically placed lifeboats.