05:42 GMT +321 September 2018
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    Migrants walk in the northern area of the camp called the Jungle in Calais, France, September 6, 2016

    Calais Deputy Mayor Slams Gov't's 'Go-Slow' Handling of 'Jungle' Camp Crisis

    © REUTERS / Charles Platiau
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    In an interview with Radio Sputnik, Philippe Mignonet, deputy mayor of Calais for environmental and security affairs, complained about the French government’s mishandling of the migrant crisis unfolding in this northern port city.

    “New migrants kept pouring in every day and there was nothing we could possibly do about it. [Calais Mayor Natacha] Bouchart regularly informed Interior Minister Bernard Cazaneuve about the situation, but the impression was that there was no political will [on the part of the government] to do something about this situation, which was getting worse every day,” Philippe Mignonet complained.

    He added that it looked like neither the president nor the prime minister were willing to order the demolition of the “Jungle” refugee and migrant camp outside the city, which has been home to thousands of migrants in the past year and is notorious for its squalid conditions.

    “Maybe this is because  of the upcoming elections or maybe  because to people in Paris Calais looks like faraway place lost in the middle of nowhere, that’s why they refused to tear this camp down the way we proposed,” Philippe Mignonet noted.

    ”I think it’s all about the lack of political will and desire by the ruling Socialists to stand up and fight, to show that people must respect the state and its laws.”

    Philippe Mignonet added that as long as the ”Jungle” camp was there building walls around it made no sense because the attacks on locals will continue.

    “If the camp is gone there would be no need to build any walls here,” he added.

    Britain is going to build a wall along the approach road to Calais in a bid to stop migrants from jumping aboard trucks bound for the UK.

    The wall is part of an Anglo-French security plan to prevent migrants from trying to get on cars and trucks moving along the main motorway to Calais.

    Last week, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve announced the "fastest possible" closure of the “Jungle” camp, which is home to some 6,900 people according to the French authorities.

    Humanitarian groups working at the camp put the number at 9,000. Cazeneuve did not specify the schedule of the closure.

    While some of the migrants are refugees from war-torn countries such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, many are simply African migrants from countries such as Eritrea who've taken advantage of Europe's lax borders and seek economic opportunities.

    In the past several months, media reports have emerged of local truck drivers being threatened by alleged criminal gangs formed of migrants from the “Jungle” camp. The gangs have reportedly caused deliberate crashes on road in a bid to divert attention from undocumented migrants boarding vehicles on the way to the United Kingdom.

    Related:

    Law of the Jungle: Calais Citizens Living on the Brink
    Building Wall at French Calais Could Cause Humanitarian Crisis in Refugee Camp
    Tags:
    government inaction, migrant camp, tensions, protests, wall, Natacha Bouchart, Philippe Mignonet, Bernard Cazeneuve, France
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