Illegal migrants in and around Calais, France, have made at least 17,000 attempts to board lorries or trains or breach the Channel Tunnel in 2017, according to French statistics.
The Interior Ministry figures show “that the demolition and closure of the ‘Jungle’ camp in Calais last October has failed in its attempt to stem the flow of migrants”, according to a report by Sky News correspondent Mark Stone.
“The migrants haven’t all gone,” notes Stone, who spent four days near the site where the notorious, crime-ridden Calais Jungle used to stand. “[T]hey have just moved into the woods where they quite literally live like animals.”
Stone flatly denied French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb’s claim that there are “about 350” migrants in the area, saying it was clear from his own brief visit that the numbers are much nearer a thousand.
Some of the migrants Stone spoke to were travelling a well-worn path to Britain, with one Afghan man telling him it was his third time making the journey, after two previous trips across the Channel which ended in deportation.
“Why not in UK?” he demanded. “We like it there. We can speak English, we can live our life better. So why not UK? I guarantee after one month, or two months, I will be there. If they kick me out, I will try again. I don’t care.”
Whilst migrants in and around the embattled port city are plainly not in the country legitimately, the French government does not seem willing to countenance detaining them until their status as legitimate asylum seekers — or not — can be established, with appropriate action being taken thereafter.
This is the strategy which has been adopted by Hungary — despite the protestations of the European Union and the European Court of Human Rights — with great success. Those migrants which do successfully reach Britain effectively cease to be France’s problem, as the European Union’s Dublin III regulations prevent British authorities from simply sending them back.
Whilst France is a safe country, with roughly equal wealth to the United Kingdom and significantly lower population density, the regulations require that illegal migrants be sent back to the first EU country they entered, not the one they came to Britain from.
As migrants typically destroy their papers and are not forthcoming with information, this is seldom able to be established — and, consequently, just 14 out of several thousand illegal migrants who arrived from France were sent back across the Channel in 2014