France's interior minister said ahead of a meeting on Monday with his British counterpart that he was 'solemnly asking Britain to assume its moral duty' to grant asylum to hundreds of children living in the makeshift migrant camp in the French Channel port.
During a visit to a refugee reception centre in Tours, west-central France, President François Hollande said that about 9,000 migrants living rough in the Channel port would soon be dispersed to similar centres around the country.
The usually tranquil village of Allex, in the Drôme Valley region of south-east France, has become agitated over the imminent opening of a reception centre for migrants. Villagers’ opposition to the centre, which will house about 50 individuals, has prompted the mayor to announce a referendum on the issue. Laurent Geslin reports from this small village of 2,500 inhabitants where, as France’s 2017 presidential election campaign draws closer, local conservative and far-right parties have jumped upon the opportunity to stoke the fires of prejudice and resentment.
French ministry’s initiative aims to bring in extra 1,000 and will pay 1,500 euros per refugee to local charities to get them housed with families.
In its latest attempt to reduce the enduring migrant crisis in the Channel port of Calais, where thousands of people live in insalubrious conditions while hoping to find a passage to Britain, the authrities have built an austere residential camp made out of converted shipping containers. Just several kilometres along the coast, near Dunkirk, where a similar crisis is developing, the Doctors Without Borders NGO has built, in cooperation with the local mayor, an unofficial camp of wooden huts that could not be more different, where it says the aim was to make migrants “feel at home”. But the concept is clearly not shared by the government. Carine Fouteau reports.
Manuel Valls said France, which has pledged to take 30,000 of the 160,000 refugees to be absorbed by European countries, 'won't take any more'.
Most of the estimated 6,000 migrants gathered in the French port of Calais in the hope of crossing the Channel to Britain live in dire conditions in a sprawling makeshift camp commonly called 'the Jungle'. As part of a longterm plan to raze the makeshift shacks and tents, the authorities have begun evacuating part of the site to build a camp with living quarters made out of containers that have no water or cooking facilities. Many migrants are refusing to move in to what resembles a prison, surrounded by fencing, watched over by video surveillance cameras, access to which is controlled by biometric readers. In this opinion article, singer and songwriter La Parisienne Libérée, who regularly commentates on current affairs for Mediapart in music and images, denounces a "shameful" project that has cost 20 million euros of public money.
The £1.1 million migrant centre will be built near existing shanty town at Grande-Synthe, just five miles from the ferry port at Dunkirk.
Relocated refugees sent to holding centres around the country are returning to the channel port, intent on entering Britain.
Manuel Valls said the EU needed to 'take responsibility' over border controls or cherished passport-free Schengen zone would be in danger.
The French and German leaders, addressing the European Parliament, said current rules are obsolete and that a united EU stand must be adopted.
French premier Manuel Valls said on television: 'We cannot welcome to Europe all those who flee Syria's dictatorship.'
The French parliament on Wednesday held a debate on “the accommodation of refugees in France and Europe”, centred on the government’s pledge to receive an extra 24,000 refugees over the coming two years, on top of the existing numbers of asylum seekers. But, writes Mediapart political correspondent Lénaïg Bredoux, it was a missed opportunity for political courage, in which Prime Minister Manuel Valls tempered France’s announced welcome of refugees with the need to tighten border security, overshadowed by fears that the crisis is further fuelling support for the far-right Front National party.
Former Syrian army officer who joined rebels arrived with family in France two years ago but is still waiting for asylum demand to be processed.
While massive numbers of refugees continue to arrive in Europe, there is a perception among many in France that the country is something of a ‘promised land’ for asylum seekers, a dream destination about to be overwhelmed by the influx. But in reality, the self-proclaimed “land of human rights” figures way down the wish-list of those currently seeking to settle in Europe, even among francophone refugees. In this analysis of the crisis, which on Sunday saw Germany closing its southern borders, Mediapart's specialist writer on migratory issues, Carine Fouteau, examines why the majority of refugees are now spurning France.