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France to build new camp for 1,500 migrants

AFP/The Local · 31 Aug 2015, 13:50

Published: 31 Aug 2015 13:29 GMT+02:00
Updated: 31 Aug 2015 13:50 GMT+02:00

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The money is to come from an additional €5 million ($5.6 million) to help France manage the thousands of migrants and refugees living in squalid conditions around Calais, hoping to reach Britain, Frans Timmermans, vice-president of the EU Commission said during a visit to the northern French port of Calais on Monday.

"The new funds will go towards the construction of camp providing humanitarian assistance for around 1,500 people," Timmermans said during a joint press conference with Valls.

The new camp, projected to comprise 120 large tents for 12 people, will operate alongside the existing Jules-Ferry welcome centre for Migrants, the French prime minister explained.

Valls and Timmermans on Monday visited significant points around Calais including the Jules Ferry centre and the Eurostar terminal, which has been at the centre of migrants' attempts to cross the channel.

The French PM said France would face the migrant crisis with "humanity, responsibility and firmness".

Valls repeated calls from several leaders who said there should be a common list of "safe" countries, whose citizens will be unable to apply for asylum.

He tried to turn off migrants from coming to Calais, saying that security around the port and Eurotunnel had been "considerably reinforced".

"Europe is mobilising," Manuel Valls said as he arrived in Calais, countering comments made Sunday by Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi that "Europe needs to stop being moved and start moving".

France has come under fire from aid agencies after migrants were moved to wasteland on the edge of Calais, that was described by some as the "worst refugee camp in Europe", due to the squalid conditions.

SEE ALSO: New Calais migrant camp the worst in Europe

Earlier the mayor Calais Natacha Bouchart had demanded €10 million was needed to make the so-called Jungle II camp safe and clean for the hundreds of migrants who have set up temporary home there.

Home affairs ministers will meet on September 14 in Brussels to try and "strengthen the European response".

But deep divisions have emerged among the EU's 28 members.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Sunday said it was "scandalous" that some Eastern European countries were refusing to accept more migrants and added Hungary's construction of a barrier to stop new arrivals "did not respect Europe's common values".

The discovery last week of 71 decomposing corpses in an abandoned truck on an Austrian motorway once again highlighted the horrific dangers to which migrants and refugees are exposed, while some 2,500 have died trying to make the treacherous journey across the Mediterranean Sea in rickety boats.

In a labyrinth

Most migrants land in Italy or Greece, then try to head towards the wealthier countries of northern Europe, though many obstacles lie in their way.

"We can't afford this at all, and every step of the way we have to pay," Samar, 40, from Damascus, told AFP as she waited with her two teenage boys for hours in the sun at a filthy reception camp in Presevo, Serbia.

Story continues below…

"We are in a labyrinth, going from queue to queue, and here in Serbia, the police are shouting at us like we are animals," she said, tears welling in her eyes.

Eastern Europe is struggling to cope. Macedonia declared a state of emergency two weeks ago.

The right-wing government in Hungary, which has seen 50,000 new arrivals this month, has responded controversially by laying NATO-standard razor wire along its border with Serbia, to be bolstered by a four-metre (13-feet) high fence, border guards and sniffer dogs, as well as stiffer penalties for those crossing without papers.

It said criticism by France's foreign minister was "shocking and groundless" and that it would summon a French embassy representative over the comments.

The fence is not proving much use in any case, with police saying that 3,080 migrants crossed over on Saturday, the second-highest daily total.


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

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