Migrant build-up at Calais is directly connected to Mediterranean boat crossings, UK says

The Government is refusing to adopt an EU-wide plan on Mediterranean migrants, however

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The migration pressures at Calais are a Europe-wide issue for the whole continent to address, Britain’s immigration minister has said.

James Brokenshire said the flow of people through the French port to Britain was directly related to boats crossing the Mediterranean from North Africa.

“The point is that this is about working beyond the French borders. It is about that upstream work, it is about that end-the-end approach of people wanting to come from North Africa to the southern Mediterranean, to then travel through the Schengen area to northern France,”  he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“We are seeing these pressures in northern France but many more people are trying to travel to Germany, Sweden, other European countries as well – and that’s why it is this European issue we’re stressing, and breaking that link of people thinking that they can get onto boats and travel northwards to Europe.”

The Government’s invocation of European cooperation is in stark contrast to its refusal to accept EU migration quotas to spread the burden of the crisis from southern states.

Greece, Italy, and Malta face a disproportionate burden in receiving migrants from north Africa because of their geographical position.

An attempt to change settlement treaties so that north European countries take more migrants is being rejected by Britain. France, Germany, and most other EU countries, have said they will take migrants.


“The UK has a proud history of offering asylum to those who need it most but we do not believe that a mandatory system of resettlement is the answer,” a British government spokesperson said when quotas were first raised by Britain’s international partners.

“We will oppose any EU Commission proposals to introduce a non-voluntary quota.”

Mr Brokenshire told the Today programme it “wasn’t for the Commission to set numbers for European countries” in migrants.

Britain has also taken in a minute number of Syrian refugees compared to other EU nations – fewer than 200 compared to Germany’s 30,000. The crisis in the Middle East is thought to be the source of many of those fleeing the global south.

The Home Secretary Theresa May is said to have spoken to French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve about the situation in Calais last night. Some French politicians have suggested it is unfair for France to pay to effectively police the UK’s border.

The number of migrants camping at Calais has swelled from hundreds last year to thousands this year as pressures force many from the global south to migrant northwards to escape conflict.