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CALAIS MIGRANTS CENTRE TO REOPEN (France) December 16, 2009

Posted by cristobalgomez in Uncategorized.
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9/12/2009- French officials in Calais have decided to reopen a reception centre for UK-bound migrants – just three months after destroying a makeshift camp near the port to discourage thousands of hopefuls gathering there. In September police moved in and cleared out the camp amid local hostility to their town being overrun by illegal migrants waiting for opportunities to jump aboard trains or trucks across the channel. But the move failed to discourage hopefuls turning up and await opportunities to make the crossing to a country they see as a land of opportunity. Now a new shelter has been sanctioned – although officials insist it will be a “day centre” and not a formal reception centre for illegal immigrants. Shadow Immigration minister Damian Green said the move would simply encourage illegal immigrants to carry on treating Calais as a gateway to the UK. “The most humane reaction would be for the French authorities to deal with the asylum applications themselves,” he said. French officials said the opening of a new shelter was in itself a humanitarian response. The facilities will be made available to those trying to board ferries and trains to England. Officials defended the plan as a humanitarian response to the fact that more than 100 migrants were still living rough in the town as winter sets in. French immigration minister Eric Bresson vowed in January not to reopen shelters near Calais for those waiting for a chance to cross the Channel. The numbers crossing to the UK illegally fell dramatically after the closure of a red Cross centre in Sangatte, near Calais, seven years ago. But the figures soared again earlier this year – and since Sangatte closed new arrivals have been sleeping rough and surviving as best they can while they wait. A UK Border Agency spokesman said earlier this year that the French Government had made clear it would not allow a new migrant camp which would act as a magnet not just to migrants but to traffickers and smugglers who prey on the vulnerable.
© The Press Association

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