The construction of a 1-kilometer concrete barrier passing by the infamous “Jungle” refugee camp in Calais, northern France, began Tuesday. Dubbed the “Great Wall of Calais” by the media, it aims to stop asylum seekers from entering the UK.
Britain is paying approximately £2 million ($2.6m) for the 13-foot-high wall built in an attempt to control immigration and improve safety at Calais. The port is a key hub for asylum seekers, refugees and migrants trying to make their way across the English Channel.
Calais is also home to the Jungle camp, which houses over 10,000 asylum seekers living in tents amid squalid conditions. Tensions have flared between locals and camp inhabitants, who are accused of being violent and disruptive.
Smugglers have been known to disrupt and stop traffic in order to give stowaways a chance to jump onboard trucks. On September 5, French farmers, truck drivers and police staged a blockade of the motorway leading to Calais in protest.
Construction of the wall has faced criticism from many parties in the refugee crisis debate, including some politicians such as former French President Nicholas Sarkozy, who suggested that since asylum seekers are trying to get to Britain, they must be dealt with in Britain rather than stay in France.
The UK’s Road Haulage Association, which represents British truck drivers going through Calais, has described the project as a waste of money.