• France's news in English

London to help France pay for Calais migrants

AFP · 21 Sep 2014, 10:35

Published: 21 Sep 2014 10:35 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said London had agreed to contribute up to €15 million (£12 million, $19 million) to a fund to help deal with the problem after Calais's mayor threatened to close the busy cross-Channel port earlier this month.

Hundreds of migrants desperate to get to Britain have twice tried to storm the perimeter of the port in the last three weeks, with mayor Natacha Bouchart blaming Britain for not doing enough to deter them.

Cazeneuve claimed London had recognised its "responsibility to take urgent and long-term measures to solve the crisis", which has dogged Calais for years.

He hailed the agreement, which he said took three weeks to negotiate with his opposite number, Home Secretary Theresa May, as "an important step", in a statement Saturday.

Bouchart said it was the first time Britain had agreed to help with the cost of dealing with migrants, hundreds of whom were sheltered in a centre in Sangatte until it was closed by former French president Nicolas Sarkozy -- then interior minister -- in 2002.

"It is official recognition of what we have had to live with for 12 years," she said.

The port's operator said the €15 million promised by London matched the cost of a plan for a huge new secure lorry park, higher alarmed fences and new security gates it had proposed three days ago.

France has long called on Britain to help pay for security measures at the port, where police say up to 1,500 migrants, mostly from Sudan and Eritrea, are trying to slip into trucks bound for Dover.

But British Immigration Minister James Brokenshire made no reference to money when he confirmed that "practical solutions have been agreed", in a statement Saturday, instead stressing closer cooperation against organised crime gangs behind people smuggling.

Brokenshire sparked fury in Calais two weeks ago when he offered to send France the security barriers used at the NATO summit in Wales.

Cazeneuve said the money will be used over three years to help further tighten security at the port, to reinforce checks and look after vulnerable migrants.

Jean-Marc Puissesseau, of the port's operator CCI, said the British aid could help pay for new four-metre tall fences around the port fitted with sensors to counter "repeated mass assaults" migrants have recently tried on the port.

More British immigration checkpoints would be built in the port, he told a press conference, as well as a huge new lorry park.

But a French police union spokesman, Gilles Debove, said he doubted that the measures would "limit the flow of migrants, nor lessen their determination to try to pass the winter in England".

Cazeneuve said the agreement was just a first step towards dealing with the problem, including providing a day centre for migrants and "accommodation for vulnerable people," as well as trying to limit the "exodus of migrants crossing the Mediterranean".

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
A market in Eymet, southwestern France. Photo: AFP

Foreigners in France explain how life has changed over the years.

London calling for Calais youths, but only a chosen few
Photo: AFP

Dozens of Calais minors are still hanging their hopes on help from the UK, but not all will be so lucky.

17 different ways to talk about sex in French
Photo: Helga Weber/Flickr

Fancy a quick run with the one-legged man?

Yikes! This is what a rat-infested French jail looks like
Photo: YouTube/France Bleu TV.

This video is not for sufferers of ratophobia (or musophobia as the condition is officially called).

France to allow Baby Jesus in Town Halls this Christmas
Photo: AFP

Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus are safe to go on display again this year, it seems.

National Front posts locations of migrants in French town
The National Front courts controversy. Photo: AFP

"Local tax payers have a right to know," says local far-right party chief.

Paris thieves use tear gas to steal €500,000 of watches
Photo: AFP

The thieves pretended to be couriers then threatened staff with tear gas to get the watches.

Bataclan survivor recounts attack in chilling drawings
Photo: BFMTV screengrab

One survivor has recounted the horrific night through illustrations.

Anger among French police grows as Hollande vows talks
French police demonstrate on the Champs Elysées. Photo: AFP

A fourth night of protests shows government efforts to ease anger among French police have been fruitless.

UK border must move back, says 'next French president'
Photo: AFP

If favourite Alain Juppé is elected, Britain and France are in for some difficult negotiations.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
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
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
Twelve French insults we'd love to have in English
What's on in France: Ten of the best events in October
jobs available