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    In this Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015 file photo, migrants receive their food rations distributed by the Banque Alimentaire of Calais at a camp set in northern France.

    UK PM Must Do More For Calais Migrants, Not Just Syrian Refugees

    © AP Photo / Emilio Morenatti
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    French mayor of Calais has rounded on British Prime Minister David Cameron accusing him of showing contempt for the town by refusing to offer asylum to refugees already living in Europe.

    Natacha Bouchart told parliament's home affairs select committee that she was "disgusted" by Cameron's decision to only extend the UK's offer of asylum to people living in refugee camps in Syria.

    "I am disgusted by that," Bouchart said.

    "Understand the position we've been in for the last 15 years. If he doesn't take refugees from Calais, that is proof that he is contemptuous of the population of Calais."

    "Less than 10 percent want to stay in France," Bouchart told the committee.

    "All the others want to come to England and we are going round and round in a circle. Even if we opened up 50,000 places in France they would not claim asylum in France."

    Britain has been quick to riposte claims that the UK is a soft touch by sending out political messages that the country "isn't the land of milk and honey" and "isn't paved with gold". Immigration Minister James Brokenshire has also drastically cut the weekly allowance given to asylum seekers while they await deportation.

    But the mayor of Calais remains convinced that migrants view the UK as an "El Dorado" and said people were attracted to Britain by the "ease of life" and accessibility to get jobs on the black market.

    "You need to continue to assert and confirm that the UK is not an El Dorado for migrants. You need to take into account the population of Calais. They are suffering day and night for these problems."

    So far, the UK has remained focused on reinforcing its border and tackling the people smuggling rings that are behind the transit of so many migrants and refugees into France, rather than responding to the humanitarian crisis and conditions many of the migrants are living in.

    Bouchart is calling on the British government to "put in some kind of measures to regulate the migration flows so that we are not taken hostage in this situation."

    Natacha Bouchart says David Cameron should offer to take in the 3,500 migrants camped in Calais as part of his plan to host 20,000 Syrian refugees, warning that if the UK failed to help the situation in Calais "it will be moral obligation to my population to open the border."

    British border controls are carried out on the French side of the Channel Tunnel. "You are imposing the law on our soil," Bouchart told the home affairs select committee. "Do it on your own soil and things will get better, you can better control your own border."

    A migrant crawls under a fence as he attempts to access the Channel Tunnel in Calais, northern France, Saturday, Aug. 8, 2015
    © AP Photo / Emilio Morenatti
    A migrant crawls under a fence as he attempts to access the Channel Tunnel in Calais, northern France, Saturday, Aug. 8, 2015

    Britain's response at the height of the crisis in Calais was to spend 10 million euros on new fencing, floodlights, patrols and security cameras, reinforcing the border. Meanwhile, hundreds of asylum seekers still attempt to scale the security fence and reach the mouth of the Channel Tunnel every night.

    Nine people are believed to have died so far trying to make the journey.

    In August, the UK and France signed an agreement, which included a joint control and command center run by both British and French police to try and alleviate the crisis in Calais.

    Britain's Home Secretary Theresa May said the command center would "relentlessly pursue and disrupt the callous criminal gangs that facilitate and profit from the smuggling of vulnerable people, often with total disregard for their lives."

    Giving evidence to a House of Lords select committee, Tom Dowdall, deputy director of the Border Policing Command at the UK National Crime Agency said officers are embedded with their French counterparts, allowing the UK to share intelligence on organized immigration crime with France. 

    "From a law enforcement perspective it has to be targeted to those seeking to exploit individuals," he said.

    Dowdall also admitted that 3000 HGVs using the port every day with crossings every 40 minutes "is attractive" to migrants hoping to reach the UK.

    European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker has called for all EU members to sign up to a compulsory quota system to relocate 160,000 asylum seekers. Whilst Britain opted out of the program, France backed the plan.


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    France, migrant quota, asylum seekers, port, humanitarian crisis, casualties, Channel Tunnel, conflict, migrants, refugees, xenophobia, Conservative Party, David Cameron, Theresa May, Calais, Europe, United Kingdom
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