The French Interior Minister has rejected accusations that his government is not doing enough to improve conditions in the enormous migrant camp at Calais.
A group of French figures, including former footballer Eric Cantona and award-winning economist Thomas Piketty has called on the government to improve conditions in the sprawling migrant camp near Calais.
Meeting police and politicians in Calais today, Bernard Cazeneuve said he shared the group’s concerns but rejected accusations that the government is not doing enough.
The group listed inadequate food, showers, lavatories and a scabies epidemic as its primary concerns.
They condemned the conditions as “a disgrace to a rich nation” and called on the government to act.
6000 refugees and migrants from countries like Iraq, Sudan and Eritrea are living in the open in a makeshift camp with limited access to food, water and adequate shelter.
Cazeneuve said that 13 million euros has been invested in an on-site welcome centre and gave a commitment that housing would be provided for vulnerable women and children.
He announced new measures to house those living at the camp.
The call from 800 artists and intellectuals was published in the “Libération” newspaper under the headline “How long are we going to remain silent?”
Cazeneuve also warned of the risk of opening the border with the UK:
“Given the current context, the control and security of the border is the only responsible reaction to this crisis. Sending out the signal that the Franco-British border would not be monitored and that crossing to the UK would be possible or easy would immediately lead to a massive and uncontrollable influx of migrants.”