30 Jul 2015

Calais migrant crisis: Who’s problem is it anyway?

Thousands of migrants are reportedly trying to enter Britain through the Eurotunnel every single day – but what is true the scale of the problem and who’s responsibility is it to fix it?

How many migrants are there in Calais?

The french Government has estimated 5,000 migrants are staying in temporary camps near Calais. The makeshift dwellings have come to be known as The Jungle 2.

In December, the Home Affairs Committee estimated there were 2,500 migrants in the port – up from 1,300 in September.

This week the Eurotunnel management claimed that 2,000 migrants had attempted to storm the train terminal in one day, suggesting that these numbers could be rising even higher.

Where do they come from?

Mostly from areas of the world where there is unrest or civil war – Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Eritrea.

Syria took over from Afghanistan for the top country for asylum-seekers in the world in 2013.

There are smaller groups from Ethiopia, Egypt, Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran.

How many try and cross?

Migrants attempt to baord a lorry in Calais

The head of Border Force 39,000 people were stopped attempting to cross the Channel illegally in 2014-15. More than double the number the previous year.

Are people dying?

Yes. Nine people have been killed at Calais trying to get to Britain in the last eight weeks alone.

Do any of them make it to Britain?

Yes. An estimated 400 migrants attempt to make it across the tunnel every night – with as many as 50 successfully getting through.

Keith Vaz, the chair of the home affairs committee, said he had witnessed 148 migrants successfully make the journey illegally to England on Tuesday morning while at an immigration processing centre in Folkestone, Kent.

We do not know the full number that get from Calais to Britain via the Eurotunnel and other crossings.

Shouldn’t this be France’s problem?

Above: Sylvie Bermann, French ambassador to the UK, on Channel 4 News

Technically as they are currently in France the migrants are a French problem but French politicians, especially those in Calais do not see it this way.

Mayor of Calais, Natacha Bouchart, say migrants want to come to Britain because they will get more money and support than in other places – and will do anything they can to keep moving across the Channel.

British politicians have accused the French of inadequately protecting the port to shift the issue from a European problem to a British one.

What is Britain doing?

Holding tight.

David Cameron believes that, politically, there is no appetite for allowing any of these migrants in to Britain which would give them the right to claim asylum here.

Currently Britain has “juxtaposed” controls in Calais which means British border control officers are allowed to check lorries and vehicles before they leave France.

Britain is also deploying high-security fencing used during the Olympic Games and last year’s Nato summit at the port to stop illegal migrants breaking into lorries bound for the UK.

Theresa May, the home secretary, has promised an extra £7 billion in funding. Nigel Farage says the British army should be called in to protect the port.

The French, and Eurotunnel, say this is not enough.