The illegal makeshift migrants’ camp in Calais known as ‘the jungle’ and which the French government has scheduled for demolition by the end of this week is again drawing attention to solidarity and immigration questions in Europe.
The mostly Afghan residents say they will just set up a camp somewhere else, until they take their chances trying to slip across the Channel into the UK. While police controls have increased, aid worker Sylvie Copyans suggested the authorities should care more for these people: “We at SALAM Calais are asking for receiving facilities along the coastline, because Sangatte was very big and not really the best solution… structures where people can rest for a few hours, eat sitting down, see a doctor, get information on asylum, because there are lots who could ask for France’s protection under the Geneva Convention.” Paris said the camp was a magnet for criminals and human traffickers who prey on the migrants, and itstrains relations between France and Britain. Meeting in Brussels, most of the European Union interior ministers have supported a programme to encourage EU states to accept people under shaky protection in countries on the EU’s borders, to stop them falling into the hands of smugglers and to reduce illegal migration pressure. EU Justice Commissioner Jacques Barrot, calling for communal solutions and clear rules said: “We can ask the Mediterranean states to be extremely attentive to asylum-seekers, as we offer them prospects for relocalisation.” Meanwhile, rights group Amnesty has denounced France’s plans in Calais and asked for a halt of asylum-seeker transfers back to the states where they first set foot in the EU.