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Response to Calais situation: more security measures
31.8.16
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The UK and French governments yesterday issued a joint statement setting out what they plan to do "to strengthen the security of our shared border, to strongly diminish the migratory pressure in Calais and preserve the vital economic link supported by the juxtaposed controls in Calais."

There are five main points:

  • Continue our close cooperation to resolve the situation in the Calais region by further securing the ports and tunnel. A total of 100 million euros have already been provided by British authorities to reinforce security. Work will be taken forward rapidly on priorities identified in the regular joint UK France security reviews. Moreover, over the last year, the French authorities have been providing 1,000 police and gendarmes day and night to prevent intrusion and protect people and goods around and in the tunnel and port areas. This scheme has just been recently reinforced with 160 additional officers.
  • Continue our close cooperation in order to bear down on the organised crime gangs exploiting the vulnerable. 28 criminal networks have been disrupted in 2015, and an additional 28 since the beginning of this year
  • address the humanitarian challenges in Calais as around 7,000 migrants are now present, including 5,000 without housing. Since 2015, the French authorities have taken more than 2,000 asylum seekers from the Calais region into the national asylum seeker scheme and more than 5,000 migrants into temporary centres all over France.
  • Continue to work together to return illegal migrants in Calais who are not in need of protection. Since 2015, more than 2,700 illegal migrants have already been removed from French territory
  • bring unaccompanied asylum seeking children to the UK when in their best interest, in accordance with the Dublin III regulation.

See: Joint statement by the governments of France and the United Kingdom (pdf) - also includes joint statements on terrorism including intelligence cooperation, prioritising information sharing and "interoperability", and implementation of the EU PNR Directive.

The French government's methods of "addressing the humanitarian challenges in Calais" have included demolishing half of the 'Jungle' camp, where it is now estimated almost 10,000 people live:

“Half the camp was dismantled. So now we have double the population living in half as much land, with access to the same amount of water points and toilets. There is an extreme problem of overcrowding. Conditions in the camp are getting progressively worse.”

Another volunteer working in the camp said:

“It is about making life as difficult as possible for the people here, with the idea that it will stop people from coming. But we are expecting 11,000 people when we do the next census. They want to avoid creating a pull factor, but people are pushed here by persecution and war.”

See: UK and French authorities 'blind' to growing problems in Calais camp (The Guardian, link)

Meanwhile the promise to "bring accompanied asylum seeking children to the UK" has so far led to little action, as pointed out by Alfred Dubs, who proposed the amendment to the Immigration Act 2016 that obliges the UK to take in "an unspecified number of unaccompanied child refugees from Europe." As he noted in a recent article: "So far very little seems to have happened."

See: Britain wants to save refugee children - so why is government shunning these helpless infants? (International Business Times, link)

Press coverage of the UK-France statement and the ongoing dispute between the countries' governments about how to deal with the situation in Calais:

And see: Calais: French truckers to blockade port over migrant camp (Kent Online, link): "A blockade by French truckers at Calais as part of a protest over the migrant camp is threatening to cause major disruption next week.

French hauliers say they plan to stage a protest around the port over increasing threats from migrants and organised gangs.

The action is scheduled to begin early Monday, and could also include shopkeepers, businesses, farmers and police unionists."

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