France is to construct a massive new migrant camp on its northern coast, presenting the UK with major new threat to its border security.
The camp, which will be France’s first official migrant camp for 13 years, will join the several unofficial migrant sites that have sprung up over the past year as thousands try to cross the Channel to Britain.
It will likely be constructed near an existing shanty town at Grande-Synthe that already houses some 2,500 migrants in squalid, rat-infested tents.
The Telegraph reports that the £1.1 million new camp will likely be many times bigger and act as an official point for migrants spread out across northern France to congregate. Authorities hope it will help defeat people smugglers who have taken control of other sites.
One camp at nearby Téteghem was forcibly dismantled after it was taken over by people smugglers, many of whom owned cars with British registrations and held UK passports.
The new camp will be greeted with great concern in Britain, however, since the last official migrant camp – Sangatte – was shut down in 2002 after descending into chaos.
At the time of its creation, the Sangatte camp was hailed as an example of Britain and France working together to solve a migration crisis, but it soon became overcrowded and witnessed riots in 2001 and 2002.
There are fears the new camp may suffer the same fate as the number of migrants trying to reach the UK shows no sign of abating.
British MP Tim Loughton, who sits on the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, said: “This is a really unhelpful move by France on all fronts.
“If they are genuine about looking after refugees then it needs to be at their point of entry rather than as a jumping-off point for the UK, where they have no right of abode.
“This sends out an unhelpful signal to more people who are led to believe – often by illegal traffickers – that the streets of Britain are paved with gold.”
Many of the migrants in northern France are Iraqi Kurds who are determined to cross the Channel to the UK, despite international law stipulating that refugees must seek asylum in the first safe country they reach.
The terminal for the Channel Tunnel rail service has seen chaotic scenes in recent months as migrants try to smuggle themselves onto trucks and trains in a bid to reach Britain.
Although this new camp will be further away from the train terminal, there are fears the huge number of migrants may instead shift their attention to nearer ferry terminals, thus necessitating a whole new set of security measures.
Lord Green of Deddington, chairman of MigrationWatch UK, said: “This is surely a step in the wrong direction.
“Migrants in France should either be considered for asylum in France or removed to their own countries as economic migrants.
“To provide a comfortable waiting area for those who prefer to be in Britain is a travesty of the entire asylum system.
“It can only encourage yet more young men to make aggressive efforts to get across the Channel.”