Hundreds of migrants have begun gathering in the French town of Calais hoping to use it as an entry point to the UK.
The notorious ‘Calais Jungle’ migrant camp was dismantled three months ago and its 8,000 African and Middle Eastern inhabitants sent to different parts of France and Britain.
However, according to Le Figaro newspaper some migrants – a large number of them reportedly children – have headed for the port town again in a bid to reach Britain. It is not clear if they were formerly living in the ‘Jungle’ camp or are fresh arrivals to Europe.
A police source told Le Figaro that an estimated 400 immigrants are now living on the streets of Calais, with up to 15 more arriving each day. Many are apparently sleeping at the train station. Police officers have been forced to keep guard at the site where the squalid ‘Jungle’ camp was to make sure the migrants don’t try to reclaim that area.
With winter temperatures biting, aid groups have requested an emergency shelter be set up in Calais, but the French interior and housing ministers this week confirmed that “all installations will be shut in the Calais area to avoid becoming a focal point” for migrants to return.
Aid groups insist something must be done to support the migrants, if only on a short term basis.
Pascale Brice, head of Ofpra, the national office for the protection of refugees and the stateless, said: “What’s important is that people arriving in Calais continue to be taken care of in one way or another, and that they can make asylum requests in France, as Britain continues to fail to assume its responsibilities.”