Mayor of Calais threatens to block port over immigrants

France calls on Britain to help deal with hundreds of illegal immigrants

Updated: 
Calais mayor threatens to block port over immigrants


Calais mayor Natacha Bouchart has threatened to shut down the port unless Britain helps to deal with the hundreds of immigrants turning up at the town in northern France in a bid to sneak across the Channel.

It would be illegal," Bouchart recognised, "but today I want to make a strong gesture towards the British Channel," he told the BBC.

Bouchart said that her city was being "taken hostage" by about 1,300 migrants from the Middle East, Asia and Africa who are attempting to cross the English channel from France,

The town has been a hotspot for migrants hoping to get into the UK for the last decade.

According to Bouchart, many of the immigrants believe that the UK will be a more welcoming place if they can get there.

She complained that the UK's immigration policy means the UK is "considered as an Eldorado" by immigrants.

Calais mayor threatens to block port over immigrants

She also reproached London for demanding increased security at the Calais port without contributing enough to the project, which, she said, cost €10m (£8m) a year, reports the Guardian.

Bouchart expressed her concerns to France's interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve.

"I told him that I hoped he would have some strong negotiations with the British."

According to the Telegraph, Cazeneuve who was in London last Friday, had called on the British to help financially with security at the port, a ministerial source said.

Many of the migrants rely on food handouts in the area.

Calais mayor threatens to block port over immigrants

In 2002 the French government closed the main Red Cross centre at Sangatte near Calais, but unsanitary illegal camps have constantly sprung up in its place since then.

French police have tried to break up the camps in recent months but the migrants say the have nowhere else to go.

Bouchart and Cazeneuve agreed on opening a day centre in Calais for migrants and a night shelter for women and children.

People fleeing war-torn Syria are adding to the rising numbers in the town.

Related stories

Revealed! Ten countries it's virtually impossible to go to

Motorist helps catch 12 illegal immigrants hiding in freezer lorry

Visitors from 'high risk' countries may pay extra £3,000 to enter UK

Stowaway risks life as he balances on ferry propeller for two hours

Calais Migrant Camps at Breaking Point