France’s immigration minister has pledged to remove a camp where illegal migrants trying to cross over to Britain gather in northern France.
The “jungle” as it is known in Calais after the French government shut down a Red Cross centre in nearby Sangatte in 2002.
It has become the temporary home of hundreds of migrants, mostly from Afghanistan, Iraq and Eritrea.
“I don’t know any other law than that of the Republic, the law of the jungle will not prevail here in Calais or anywhere else in France,” said Immigration Minister Eric Besson on a visit to Calais.
Every nights, dozens of migrants converge on car parks near the ferry terminals to try to get on a lorry to Britain, believing it will be easier to enter and find a job there.
Human rights activists say instead of clearing the camp the government should be looking for more sustainable solutions.
“People haven’t travelled thousands of kilometres, they haven’t fled torture, hardship and war to turn back just because they’be been arrested a few times,” Jean-Claude Lenoir, vice-president of the humanitarian organisation Salam.
The minister’s visit came just two days after a massive police swoop on the jungle where they arrested around 200 migrants, all of whom have now been released.
Paris has urged London to better control its borders and hopes to discuss the matter at a summit in July.