Francois Hollande warns Brexit does not mean UK can turn its back on migrants

UK must 'play its part' in resolving migrant crisis, says French President

Harriet Agerholm
Monday 26 September 2016 15:18
Francois Hollande calls for Britain to 'play its part' in managing Calais migrant crisis

French President Francois Hollande has said Britain's “sovereign decision” to leave the EU does not excuse the country from its obligations to refugees. He called on the UK to "play its part" in dealing with the migrant crisis.

Mr Hollande made the remarks on a landmark visit to Calais where he also repeated his plan that the Jungle camp be “completely dismantled” by the end of the year.

The President was expected to meet with officials at the port but not enter the Jungle camp.

"I want to express my desire to see the British authorities play their part in the humanitarian effort that France is carrying out and will continue to carry out," the President said before police in Calais.

“It's not the case that just because the United Kingdom has taken a sovereign decision it is free from its obligations in relation to France," Mr Hollande said in reference to the Brexit decision, AFP reported.

The President has previously announced plans to move some 10,000 refugees living in the Jungle to centres across the country.

Mr Hollande has been criticised over living conditions in the camp, which he acknowledged were "unacceptable". On Saturday, he called the camp a "humanitarian emergency", according to Associated Press.

A UK-funded wall is being built along the road to the port in an attempt to stop refugees smuggling themselves into the tunnel.

Britain has also faced criticism for taking too long to process the applications of those in Calais who have an entitlement to join family members. Earlier this month a 14-year old boy, Raheemullah Oryakhel, was killed when he was hit by a lorry on the main road into Calais. The teenager had a legal right to join his family in the UK.

Under current plans, the UK has committed to accepting 20,000 Syrian refugees over five years. Former Foreign Secretary David Milliband has said this equates to just six refugees per constituency per year, and called for the UK to accept four times that amount.

As bulldozers prepare to raze the Calais Jungle, there has been a marked rise in the number of unaccompanied minors turning up at the site. There has been a 51 per cent increase in the past month alone – 11 every day, according to Help Refugees.

The Jungle has gained new significance in the run-up to the French presidential elections next spring. Last week Nicolas Sarkozy said he would force Britain to open a migrant centre to deal with the asylum claims of those living in the Calais camp.

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