UK should bear more migrant costs at Calais, says France

UK should bear more migrant costs at Calais, says France
France's interior minister said he wanted London to shoulder more of the costs in dealing with migrants at the port city of Calais, hoping to reach the UK.
2 min read
14 January, 2018
Thousands of refugees have attempted to cross into the UK [Getty]
The UK should shoulder more of the costs of dealing with migrants hoping to cross to Britain from the port city of Calais, French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said on Sunday.

In an interview with Le Parisien daily published Sunday, Collomb said he would push to modify the Touquet accords signed in 2003, which effectively moved the UK's border with France to the French side of the Channel.

"I hope to add a new element to these agreements, and concrete measures regarding the coverage of certain costs by the UK and the management of more people, for receiving refugees and unaccompanied minors," he said.

His comments come as President Emmanuel Macron is to visit Calais on Tuesday, ahead of a meeting with UK Prime Minister Theresa May in London on Thursday.

Hundreds of migrants remain near Calais more than a year after the huge so-called Jungle Camp was cleared by the authorities in October 2016.

Collomb said about 400 people are now in the area, compared with more than 7,000 a year ago, and defended the government's efforts to find shelter and process asylum requests.

"The ones sleeping outside don't want to present themselves, because they don't want to seek asylum in France," he said.

Last week, the government said that asylum claims hit a record 100,000 in France last year, and Collomb said an additional 85,000 people were refused entry at France's borders.

"It's impossible to adequately take in 185,000 people each year: that's a city the size of Rennes," he said, referring to the Breton capital in northwestern France.

According to UNHCR figures, more 60 million people were forcibly displaced due to war and conflict in recent years, creating the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War.

A UNHCR report said 53 percent of all refugees in 2014 came from Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia.

In August, Britain's border force foiled 56,000 attempts by migrants to reach its southern shores in 2016, authorities said.

Agencies contributed to this report.