Residents of Calais have said that they are determined to march into Paris to demand that the French President Francois Hollande protect their city from the migrant invasion currently camped out on their doorstep. Announcing their plans, they’ve told the government to “expect fireworks.”
Calais has been on the front line of the migrant problem for almost two decades now, with the first “Jungle” camp being set up in 2002 after an overcrowded red cross centre in the area known as “Sangatte” was closed by the government.
Over the intervening years camps a cycle has emerged of camps springing up only to be demolished by the authorities. But in the last year, with migration across the continent at an all-time high, the Jungle has grown out of all proportion and is now home to a reported 7,000 migrants – local groups put the figure much higher.
And this time, left wing activists have moved in too, organising demonstrations and inciting the migrants to aggressively resist attempts by the French riot police to contain them.
Unsurprisingly, the locals have had enough. In January, the day after more than 2000 activists descended upon their town from across Europe for a day of violent protest, a large group of local people including local business people and city officials wrote to President Hollande asking him to visit the city
They included in their letter a request for government assistance, including building a secure accommodation facility for the migrants, a commitment to projects in the area designed to boost the economy, and the suspension of business taxes in the area for the next ten years.
“Economically, the situation is very serious,” Antoine Ravisse, a member of the Shipping Federation of the Port of Calais told Nord Littoral ”Calais is heading in the opposite direction to the wider world – businesses are closing, property prices are plummeting. We must stop the bleeding.”
Jean-Louis Foissey, also a member of the Shipping Federation said: “An exceptional situation calls for exceptional measures. The President hasn’t instigated a state of emergency – but the emergency exists!”
Comparing the situation to that of a natural disaster, another group member added: “We cannot wait, this is happening now.”
The group gave the President until the 15th February to respond to their letter, saying: “Let him come to Calais to take action and get us out of this crisis. If nothing has happened by then we can truly say that Calais has truly been abandoned.”
As that date has now passed with still no sign of Hollande, the group plan to march on Paris to make their voices heard. Commenting on the lack of interest from the government the group said they felt “deep distress and a sense of abandonment,” and lamented that the President didn’t even mention Calais in a recent televised speech.
They plan to march on the 7th March, and say they are not worried about how many people turn out as they are after action, not publicity. “The situation in Calais is known to all, what we want is a strong policy response,” they commented.
Frédéric Van Gansbeke, communications manager for the Grand Rally, has said that the plans have not yet been finalised, but promised “fireworks.” He added” in other words, there will be more actions by the collective at various locations in Paris.”