Migrant crisis: France to build 'humanitarian' camp for Calais asylum seekers with €5m EU aid

Tented encampment for 1,500 people will replace 'jungle' of makeshift shelters

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The Independent Online

France will build a new “humanitarian” camp for asylum seekers at Calais this winter with EU aid, the French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has announced.

The tented encampment for 1,500 people will replace an existing “jungle” of makeshift shelters in dunes north of the French Channel port. It will be built instead of a township of prefabricated huts which was announced in June but never constructed.

The camp will partially be funded by a grant of €5m from the European Union but this money will also be used to to transport some of the estimated 3,000 asylum seekers in Calais to hostels in other parts of France.

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French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who announced the camp (AFP)

The announcement of the new camp, during a visit to Calais by Mr Valls, will be attacked as a “Sangatte 2” by the anti-migration lobby in Britain. A Red Cross camp for refugees and migrants at Sangatte near the Channel Tunnel entrance was closed in 2002 following pressure from the UK government.

French officials say that the new camp is intended to provide minimum humanitarian facilities for the existing migrants at Calais – not to provide a magnet or spring-board for other migrants to travel to Britain.

During a press conference in Calais, Mr Valls was approached by a female pro-migrant activist who shouted: “You took two years and 200,000 deaths to rediscover your humanity.”  The woman knocked aside TV cameras as she tried to reach the French Prime Minster but she was seized by police and bodyguards and arrested.

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Makeshift shelters in dunes north of the French Channel port (AFP)

Mr Valls said Europe was “mobilising to find methodical solutions” to the migrant crisis which has exploded this summer. The solutions must involve compassion and humanitarian aid, he said,  but also tough action against people-smuggling gangs and a clear distinction between asylum-seekers and economic migrants.

 

Mr Valls was accompanied by the European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans and the European commissioner for migrant affairs, Dimitris Avramopoulos. They announced an extra package of €5m in EU aid for Calais, some of which will be used to build the humanitarian tented encampments for migrants with showers and toilets.

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