• France's news in English

Calais mayor threatens to block Channel port

AFP/The Local · 3 Sep 2014, 08:15

Published: 03 Sep 2014 08:15 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Calais mayor Natacha Bouchart on Tuesday threatened to shut down the port unless Britain helps solve the problem of the hundreds of immigrants turning up there in a bid to sneak across the Channel.

"I could take the decision to block the port... I could bring pressure to bear," Bouchart told reporters in Paris after meeting Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve.

"It would be illegal," she recognised, "but today I want to make a firm statement to the British."

The mayor took issue with British immigration policy which, she complained, "is "considered as an Eldorado" by immigrants.

She also reproached London for demanding security is boosted at the Calais port without participating enough in financing the project, which, she said, cost €10 million ($13 million) a year.

Bouchart said she had not discussed the possibility of blocking the port with the interior minister, aware that he could not back such a measure.

"But I told him that I hoped he would have some strong negotiations with the British."

Cazeneuve, who was in London last Friday, had called on the British to help financially with security at the port, a ministerial source said.

Bouchart and Cazeneuve also agreed on opening a day centre for immigrants in Calais, many of them from Africa, and a night shelter for women and children.

There are around 1,300 immigrants in the northern French port.

Most are from Eritrea or Somalia and are hoping to reach England rather than seek asylum in France.

Story continues below…

People fleeing war-torn Syria are adding to the rising numbers.

A Red Cross centre was opened for them in 1999 but rapidly became overcrowded, holding 2,000 people before it was closed in 2002, rather than the 800 it was built for.

Hundreds of would-be immigrants die in dangerous Mediterranean crossings every year, while others are detained by Italian police once they reach the southern EU member's territorial waters or the islands of Sicily or Lampedusa.

Clashes regularly break out between the immigrants in Calais.

AFP/The Local (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
France sees biggest drop in jobless rate for 20 years
Photo: AFP

Good news at last. But it's unlikely to keep President François Hollande in his job.

Calais migrants given mixed reception in French towns
Photo: AFP

Some in France have shown solidarity with their new guests, while others have made it clear they are not welcome.

Lonely Planet says Bordeaux is world's best city to visit
The fantastic new Bordeaux wine museum. Photo: AFP

After The Local France, the Lonely Planet has followed suit by urging everyone to head to Bordeaux in 2017.

Jungle shacks set ablaze and torn down as camp razed
All photos: AFP

IN PICTURES: The razing of the Jungle has finally begun.

Frenchwoman finds WW1 grenade among her spuds
Photo: AFP

It could have been a very explosive family dinner.

Refugee crisis
What rights to a future in France for Calais migrants?
Photo: AFP

What does the future hold for the migrants of the Jungle? Can they work or claim social benefits or travel freely inside Europe?

Pampers nappies 'contain carcinogenics': French study
Photo: Robert Valencia/Flick

The substances in the nappies are meant to prevent skin irritation but are cancerous, the study concludes.

France to scrap special prison wings for dangerous jihadists
Photo: AFP

The experiment has been ditched.

Myth busting: Half of French adults are now overweight
A model at the Pulp Fiction fashion show in Paris that represents society's diverse spectrum . Photo: AFP

Hold on, aren't the French all meant to be finely toned specimens with not an ounce of fat on them?

France poised to send bulldozers into Calais Jungle
Photo: AFP

As hundreds of migrants leave, the bulldozers are set to tear down the sprawling Calais shanty town on Tuesday.

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available