On Tuesday, UK Immigration Minister Robert Goodwill announced that the United Kingdom plans to build a 13-foot-high and 0.6-mile-long wall at France's Calais in response to the desperate situation in the so-called Jungle migrant camp as a part of the Anglo-French security package, which is worth 17 million pounds ($22.8 million).
"Half of the people here, in the camp, or maybe more, want to go to GB [Great Britain]… Half of people are here because they have no place elsewhere… Most of them want to stay in France, but there is not enough place in the welcoming system in France… The government must open more places in other towns to give them a shelter for a while," a spokesperson for Calais humanitarian group L'Auberge des Migrants said.
The planned wall would fail to stop those seeking to cross into the United Kingdom, thus not serving its purpose as well as worsening the migrants' situation, the spokesperson added.
"If somebody really wants to go to a place, he is able to find a way to cross the fences…The more you build fences, the more the smugglers [will] increase their prices, the more the people [will] risk their life to try to cross to GB [Great Britain]," the spokesperson said.
The attitude was echoed by Tess Berry-Hart from the charity Calais Action, who stressed that the wall is also expected to deteriorate the quality of life of the Calais residents themselves as fear and intolerance take hold.
According to the L'Auberge des Migrants spokesperson, "the town [Calais] landscape is [already] really spoiled by the fences" and Calais "shops or restaurants owners think that the number of tourists is decreasing because of migrants, but a part of the problem comes probably from the fences, too."
Calais Action's Berry-Hart noted that "if the UK Government can find nearly £2 million pounds to build a wall in Calais, they can find the money to help rehome child refugees from the camps to safety in the UK."
She added that the $2.66 million which the UK government will spend on the wall "would be better spent rehousing people from the camp safely and providing safe and legal routes to asylum," yet noted that "it's not the budget they should worry about — it's the history books."
Since last year, Calais has served as the location of the Jungle, notorious for its dreadful living conditions. Thousands of migrants, many from the Middle East and North Africa, are living in the Jungle, located not far from the Channel Tunnel, in the hope of reaching the United Kingdom.