Calais migrant crisis: public figures tell us what they think should be done about the developing emergency

Can the current situation continue?

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As the crisis in Calais continues, with French authorities now estimating 5,000 migrants to be living in impromptu camps by the French port, the debate continues in Britain about what should be done.

Migrants escape from the French Police as they try to catch a train to reach England

While some argue that the unfolding humanitarian crisis should see asylum seekers welcomed into the UK for refuge, others are calling on the army to be sent across the Channel to come down hard. Hundreds of migrants, seeking refuge in the UK, are attempting to storm the Channel Tunnel on a daily basis as David Cameron has promised more dogs, fences and guards to stop people traveling into the UK without permission.

We asked a range of figures  what they believe should be done about the crisis in Calais:

Habib Rahman - Chief Executive of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants

“It is disgraceful that the UK, a civilised strong nation, is ignoring the plight of these people, perceiving them to be an ‘inconvenience’ and ‘illegal’. Many will have fled persecution, war, destruction and displacement, and have valid claims for asylum. We have an international legal obligation to provide asylum to those who are fleeing persecution and to grant humanitarian protection to those coming from war torn countries.

Channel clash: a migrant is held back by French police at the Eurotunnel site

"The UK government ought to focus on the important role it should play, in cooperation with France and our other European partners as well as the UNHCR, in finding long term solutions including seeking to resolve this humanitarian crisis by providing sanctuary for refugees as required by international law."

"The UK is trying to abdicate from its duty by spending millions of pounds on preventing people from reaching its shores and this is a disgrace. We have a legal and moral obligation to get our priorities right.”

Steven Woolfe MEP - UKIP Spokesman for Migration

Steven Woolfe MEP - UKIP migration spokesman

“Instead of cutting back UK border staff, the government needs to beef up border security in Dover/Calais to protect to speed up entry into the UK. We should demand that French authorities permanently beef up security in to Calais until a longer term solution to the European migrant crisis is found. Third, as a strategic imperative, the UK should consider the use of other, smaller ports in England to filter traffic to La Havre, Dieppe and Ostend.

"Most importantly, we should return any illegal migrants found to have come from Calais immediately back to the French port, just as the French authorities are doing on the French/Italian border at Ventimeglia so the message is clear: we won't tolerate illegal immigration.”

Eurotunnel Spokesperson - Manages and Operates the Channel Tunnel between Britain and France

"Eurotunnel welcomes the recent announcement by the government to reinforce the existing security measures. More fencing, more security equipment, more personel and more dog patrols will help to protect the UK border".

Delays have hit the tunnel

"The migrant crisis at the UK border in Calais will remain until European governments get together to stop the flows of migrants arriving and remove the 5,000 or so who are already in the area."

Natalie Bennett - Leader of the Green Party

“David Cameron clearly doesn’t have a handle on the Calais situation. Instead of ramping up the anti-immigration rhetoric, he should be explaining to the British people that these are desperate people from war-torn and human rights-abusing countries.

Green Party leader Natalie Bennett

“The UK and French governments must work together with humanitarian agencies to create centres that allow the migrants to lodge asylum applications to come to the UK. They should quickly process the claims of those at Calais who have links to the UK.”

Peter Oakford - Conservative Kent Councillor and Cabinet Member for Specialist Children Services

“Under the Children Act 1989, it is Kent County Council’s legal responsibility to care for under-18s who arrive in the county from abroad, seeking asylum. Recent world events have led to a huge increase in the number coming through the Port of Dover and Eurotunnel, and Kent is now at breaking point. The number of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in our care has increased from 220 in March last year to 368 in March this year and 629 at the end of last week.


“We have no more foster beds available anywhere in the county and the current situation is unsustainable.

“We have been working with the Home Office and the Department for Education to try to address this problem; we are asking for a fairer distribution so that these young people are placed across the whole of the UK, and not just left here in Kent."