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France, UK declare global migrant crisis

4 August 20150 comments
French police clear hundreds of asylum-seekers from Calais migrant camps. Image courtesy of

French police clear hundreds of asylum-seekers from Calais migrant camps. Image courtesy of

The world is facing a “global migration crisis”, according to the British and French governments.

In a dramatic joint declaration UK Home Secretary Theresa May and her French counterpart, Bernard Cazeneuve, have called on countries across Europe and Africa to help solve the emergency caused by thousands of migrants congregating at their borders.

Writing in Britain’s Daily Telegraph, they warned would-be immigrants planning to make the desperate journey in search of a better life in Britain that the streets there are “not paved with gold”.

In a bid to make Britain less attractive, the government announced plans to cut the weekly cash allowances that support thousands of failed asylum seekers with families. Also, people whose applications for asylum fail, may be evicted from their homes.

The move came as figures showed the number of suspected illegal migrants detained in Britain has soared by almost a fifth since the crisis at the French channel crossing port of Calais erupted.

Bedfordshire Police – which covers Toddington on the M1 Motorway, one of the first stops for many truckers arriving from France – reported a seven-fold increase in so-called ‘illegal’ entries in June.

In their article, Ms May and Mr Cazeneuve promise that solving the crisis is their joint “top priority”, and disclose that European efforts so far this year have smashed 17 gangs trafficking people across the Mediterranean to Europe.

But the two ministers demand that Greece, Italy and other European countries take responsibility for stopping the flow of migrants from Africa.

Ms May and Mr Cazeneuve, the French Interior Minister, made their highly unusual joint statement amid growing tensions over continued delays at Dover for holidaymakers and lorry drivers hit by the chaos at Calais.

Significant disruption to transport and freight movements have been caused by hundreds of migrants trying to storm the entrance to the Channel Tunnel.

Ms May and Mr Cazeneuve wrote that the scenes from Calais have shown “very starkly the desperate measures some migrants will take” to cross the 20-mile stretch of sea to get to Britain.

“Would-be migrants have been taking ever more dangerous risks – resulting in serious injuries and, tragically, deaths,” they wrote.

They go on to say that the issue cannot be left to Britain and France alone to solve. “What we are currently facing is a global migration crisis,” they said.

“This situation cannot be seen as an issue just for our two countries.

“It is a priority at both a European and international level. Many of those in Calais and attempting to cross the Channel have made their way there through Italy, Greece or other countries. That is why we are pushing other member states, and the whole of the EU, to address this problem at root.”

They say European governments must do more to end the notion, held by many of those who are desperate enough to attempt the perilous passage from North Africa by boat, that they will find economic security upon arrival.

Many see Europe, and particularly the UK, as somewhere that offers “the prospect of financial gain,” they say.

“This is not the case – our streets are not paved with gold.”

Under a new deal agreed between Britain and France, French police reinforcements will remain in Calais for the rest of the summer, while the UK will spend up to £8 million on a significant increase to the 200 private security guards patrolling the Eurotunnel perimeter.

There were 2,157 arrests of suspected illegal immigrants by 15 police forces between January and June this year – compared with 1,836 in the same period last year.


Sarah Gilmore
AMES Staff Writer