23 September 2014
UK government promises GBP 12m to tackle ‘illegal immigration’ from Calais
The UK government has pledged GBP 12m to help France tackle the problem of ‘illegal immigrants’ trying to enter Britain through Calais. The deal, announced on 20 September 2014 by the UK home secretary, Theresa May, and France’s minister of interior, Bernard Cazeneuve, will also see increased cooperation between the two countries’ law enforcement agencies.
Contributions by the UK will be given in the form of EUR 5m a year for three years to a joint intervention fund. This money will be used to construct robust fences and to bolster security at the parking area of the port, which migrants use as a staging post for efforts to cross the Channel. Plans also include the possibility of installing technology to address the dangers of migrants hiding in tankers and refrigerated lorries.
In a joint statement, May and Cazeneuve said: ‘Efforts will be made to strengthen cooperation by establishing permanent joint mechanisms to deliver the comprehensive action plan and enhance co-operation between British and French law-enforcement agencies at the border. This will include helping to identify measures to ensure migrants do not breach the laws of either country or threaten the safety of Calais residents or those using the port. It will also support improved joint returns initiatives and further comprehensive action against those trying to evade immigration control.’ Security and immigration minister James Brokenshire added that British and French law enforcement agencies would also target organised crime gangs behind people trafficking and smuggling.
Tensions have been growing in Calais in the past year and authorities have been vocal in asking for help with immigration in the port. For example, two weeks earlier around 200 migrants stormed the ferry terminal and tried to board a P&O passenger ship in the hope of making it across the Channel. They were forced back by the ferry crew with fire hoses. French authorities believe there are 1,500 illegal immigrants in the town, a rise of 50 per cent compared to last year.