End­ing mi­grant cri­sis ‘top pri­or­ity,’ vow UK, France

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY FRAN BLANDY

France and Bri­tain vowed Sun­day that a cross-Chan­nel mi­grant cri­sis was their “top pri­or­ity” in a united front that be­lied sim­mer­ing anger over an is­sue which has be­come a po­lit­i­cal hot potato.

Beefed-up se­cu­rity has curbed the num­ber of at­tempts by mi­grants in the port city of Calais try­ing to make it through an un­der­sea tun­nel to the UK, with only 400 bids Satur­day night, a po­lice source said, com­pared to 2,000 ear­lier in the week.

Around 3,000 peo­ple from Africa, the Mid­dle East and Asia are camped in Calais wait­ing to smug­gle them­selves into Bri­tain, and the costly cri­sis has strained ties across the Chan­nel.

“Tack­ling this sit­u­a­tion is the top pri­or­ity for the UK and French gov­ern­ments,” Bri­tish Home Sec- re­tary Theresa May and French In­te­rior Min­is­ter Bernard Cazeneuve said in a state­ment pub­lished in Bri­tain’s Tele­graph news­pa­per and France’s Jour­nal Du Dimanche.

“We are com­mit­ted and de­ter­mined to solve this, and to solve it to­gether.”

How­ever, in a sign of the po­lit­i­cal anger on the ground, a French op­po­si­tion law­maker ac­cused Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron of fail­ing to grasp “the sever­ity of the prob­lem.”

“If he con­tin­ues not to pro­pose any­thing else, let’s let the mi­grants leave and let Mr. Cameron han­dle his pol­i­tics in his own way, but on his own is­land,” for­mer em­ploy­ment min­is­ter Xavier Ber­trand told the Jour­nal Du Dimanche.

“The English must change their rules on mi­grant la­bor be­cause in Eng­land ... the re­al­ity is it is pos-

sible to work with­out pa­pers.”

Blame Trad­ing

At least 10 mi­grants have died since June in the nightly at­tempts to find a way onto a train a lorry headed for Bri­tain — seen as a bet­ter eco­nomic op­tion by mi­grants, many of whom do not speak French.

The in­cur­sion at­tempts on Satur­day night saw traf­fic blocked for five hours, a Euro­tun­nel spokesman said, adding the mea­sure was taken for the se­cu­rity of both clients and mi­grants.

The spokesman said the mi­grants had changed tac­tics and in­stead of mak­ing a dash into Euro­tun­nel premises in small groups, were at­tempt­ing to storm se­cu­rity bar­ri­ers in large num­bers.

In the UK, politi­cians re­minded Cameron of the soar­ing eco­nomic cost of the traf­fic chaos, de­mand- ing more com­pen­sa­tion from the French.

Act­ing Labour Party leader Har­riet Har­man said the cri­sis was cost­ing haulers £700,000 a day.

“It is wrong for UK busi­nesses and fam­i­lies to face these costs given bor­der se­cu­rity fail­ures in France,” she wrote in a let­ter to Cameron.

“Your dis­cus­sions with the French gov­ern­ment should there­fore in­clude a re­quest for com­pen­sa­tion backed up by any diplo­matic pres­sure that may be­come nec­es­sary.”

Streets Not Paved with Gold

Ear­lier this week, the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment pledged 10 mil­lion eu­ros (US$11 mil­lion) to im­prove fenc­ing around the Euro­tun­nel rail ter­mi­nal in Co­quelles, out­side Calais.

And Cameron, who has warned that the cri­sis could last all sum­mer, promised “more fenc­ing, more re­sources, more snif­fer dog teams” to aid French po­lice in their nightly cat-and-mouse game with the mi­grants.

The new mea­sures sent “a clear mes­sage,” ac­cord­ing to Cazeneuve and May.

“Our bor­der is se­cure, and there is no easy way into the UK,” they wrote.

They said the world was fac­ing “a global mi­gra­tion cri­sis” that re­quired a Euro­pean and in­ter­na­tional re­sponse, and warned that the bur­den of tack­ling the prob­lem should not lie with Bri­tain and France alone.

“Many of those in Calais and at­tempt­ing to cross the Chan­nel have made their way there through Italy, Greece or other coun­tries,” the pair wrote.

Ul­ti­mately, the cri­sis had to be ad­dressed at the roots by “re­duc­ing the num­ber of mi­grants who are cross­ing into Europe from Africa” for eco­nomic rea­sons.

“Our streets are not paved with gold,” they said, adding that both gov­ern­ments were cur­rently send­ing back around 200 mi­grants a month who do not qual­ify for asy­lum.

AFP

Peo­ple sit be­side tents in the site dubbed “New Jun­gle,” where mi­grants try­ing to cross the Chan­nel to reach the UK have camped out, around the north­ern French port of Calais, on Sun­day, Aug. 2.

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