Eight months after France’s notorious “Jungle” camp in Calais was dismantled, migrants desperate to make it to Britain are once again flocking to the northern port town. But this time around, they’re without basic needs like running water and tents.
On Friday, France’s new Interior Minister Gérard Collomb headed to Calais to meet with local authorities, police, associations and business owners. The reason: An increasing number of migrants are defying the French government’s attempts at shutting the city down as a main transit point for those looking for a better life across the Channel.
“I’ve come to see for myself what is going on here,” Collomb was cited by AFP as saying upon his arrival on Friday morning. He also announced that within the next two weeks a plan would be presented to improve France’s reception of asylum seekers and to differentiate more between economic migrants and those fleeing war and unrest, mostly hailing from sub-Saharan Africa.
“We have to deal with the problems, but given the past, this can’t be done in Calais,” the minister said, rejecting the idea of potentially opening up a new migrant reception centre in the area. “Because every time we open a centre [here], it’s like blowing wind on the fire.”
According to local aid groups, hundreds of mainly Eritreans, Afghans and Sudanese are again wandering the streets and sleeping it rough in the hope of hitching a clandestine ride to Britain. Local aid groups currently estimate the number at between 400 and 600, but say it’s quickly swelling.