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'We need to tell migrants the UK is not El Dorado'

Ben McPartland · 21 Oct 2014, 16:32

Published: 21 Oct 2014 16:32 GMT+02:00

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A day after French police in Calais were forced to fire tear gas at hundreds of migrants trying to force their way onto trucks to the UK, the British Ambassador to France says more needs to be done to explain to the refugees that Britain is far from paradise.

“An enormous number of illegal immigrants arrive in Europe via the Mediterranean from North Africa and Eritrea. A number cross Europe to get to Calais to go to the UK because they think the system is more generous,” Sir Peter Ricketts told La Voix du Nord newspaper.

“There is a continual need to explain to the migrants that the UK is not El Dorado,” the envoy added.

Nevertheless whatever explanations are being given to migrants by UK authorities they appear to be falling on deaf ears as migrants continue to pour into Calais where they spend their days risking their lives trying to get to the UK. 

Another problem for British authorities is that many migrants do not want to stay in France and claim asylum, citing everything from the complicated bureaucracy to the unfriendliness of locals and the lack of adequate accomodation.

The UK has come under pressure from the French government in recent months to do more to help authorities on this side of the Channel deal with the crisis.

Calais’s mayor had become so frustrated with the lack of support, that she threatened to close the busy cross-Channel port at one stage.

In September the UK government responded by agreeing to commit €15 million over three years to help make the port of Calais more secure.

The ambassador defended the British government’s contribution to efforts on the French side aimed at preventing the migrants from getting to the UK.

“We take the pressures on this city very seriously. We want to try to help and support the French deal with this situation. It is clear that in recent months, the number of migrants in Calais is increasing and this poses security problems,” he said.

“We have already invested a lot of money in previous years. This is an additional contribution which will be used primarily to increase security, to ensure the safety of its users, especially truck drivers

Story continues below…

“We will also take joint action with France to support the victims of human trafficking and provide protection and support,” Ricketts added.

Those security problems were highlighted dramatically last month when hundreds of migrants stormed the port in a desperate bid to get on to a UK-bound ferry.

The incident was captured on the video below.

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

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