Just months after it was reported that the majority of the illegal Calais migrant camp had been cleared, its population is back at 10,000, violence has peaked, and police have declared the area a “no-go zone”.
The revelations come as pressure mounts in France to move the border and camp to the UK, which the British Home Secretary will discuss when she travels to France today.
Inter-ethnic violence and the increasingly desperate and violent attempts to board and ambush lorries passing through the port have driven the increase in conflict.
“There are fights all the time now. You can get stabbed here for your money,” Rais, a 23-year-old migrant from Jalalabad in Afghanistan, told The Telegraph.
“It’s an explosive situation. There are fights all the time in the camp,” added Gilles Debove, an official with the SGP FO police union, explaining that the Sudanese have recently overtaken Afghans as the dominant group in the camp.
The situation is also perilous for car and truck drivers, with some threatened with knives and even a chainsaw.
Just last week, a team of BBC journalists filmed a brutal attack on a lorry. A few weeks before migrants wielding bats and knives smashed up vehicles on roads near the town as their owners sat in traffic, reportedly “just for fun”.
Mr. Debove also said that between 50 and 80 migrants continued to arrive every day, mostly by train from Paris and elsewhere.
“Every night there are about 1,000 migrants on the roads leading to the ferry port and to the Channel tunnel entrance,” he said, who are trying to get on to trucks that will take them to England.
However, only about 30 migrants leave the camp each day on buses for migrant centres around the country, despite a push to encourage migrants to seek asylum in France.
The population of the camp is now at 10,000, the highest since French authorities agreed to “demolish” parts of it six months ago, claiming their goal was to reduce the number of camp inhabitants to about 1,500.
However, in May, it was reported that the promised clearance displaced just ten per cent of the migrants living there, and the numbers quickly began to rise again.
At least 1,500 live in new heated and glazed containers provided by local authorities.
Britain’s home secretary, Amber Rudd, will meet her French counterpart Bernard Cazeneuve today amid growing calls across the channel for the treaty, which permits UK officials to carry out border checks at Calais, to end.
The issue of the Calais camp has become somewhat of a political football in the up-and-coming French presidential elections.
The current socialist administration supports the current arrangement. However, former president Nicholas Sarkozy, who is running for office again next year, said it was time for the Calais migrant camp to be closed and for border controls to be shifted back to the UK.
Mr. Sarkozy signed the current agreement, known as the Touquet agreement, in 2003 when he was interior minister.
“I’m demanding the opening of a centre in the UK to deal with asylum seekers in Britain so that Britain can do the work that concerns them,” he told a rally.
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