France's Macron visits Calais amid pressure over migration crisis

Cesar Mills
January 17, 2018

Macron is meeting Thursday with British Prime Minister Theresa May in Sandhurst near London, and on the agenda is a 2003 border control agreement that he wants to change.

British and French security forces cooperate according to the "Le Touquet" border treaty, which allows British police and border guards to work on French soil, and keep most unwanted migrants from ever reaching British shores.

As a candidate ahead of this election in May, Macron had consistently said that he meant to renegotiate the 2003 border agreement with Britain, known as the Le Touquet accord.

But hundreds of people continue to camp out in Calais, hoping to stow away on trucks heading to Britain, a destination seen as an El Dorado by some migrants from Afghanistan and East Africa.

Writing in Le Monde newspaper, they urged him to "live up to our ideals" and put an end to efforts that seek to dissuade asylum seekers from coming to France in the first place.

Immigration authorities, meanwhile said that 100,412 asylum requests were lodged in France in 2017, up by 17 per cent on the previous year.

Some migrants stay out of the centres because they do not want to apply for asylum in France, instead trying to cross the border to Britain.

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The biggest group of applicants for asylum in 2017 consisted of Albanians, nearly all of whom will have their requests turned down because the southeast European country is considered safe.

Immigration poses a tricky political challenge for Macron, with his newly formed centrist Republic On The Move (LREM) party divided on how to greet new arrivals.

Pisani-Ferry, Moderate Trade Union Chief Laurent Berger and other signatories wrote that Macron's commitment during the election campaign to the right to asylum had led them to hope for a presidency "marked by a proud and responsible humanism".

On Tuesday, France's interior minister Gérard Collomb strongly contested accusations from welfare groups - at least two of which are boycotting Macron's visit - of police violence against migrants and refugees.

With 400 to 700 migrants there today, the situation is in many ways worse, said Francois Guennoc of the aid group Auberge des Migrants.

During and after the so-called Jungle camp's clearance a year ago, more than 750 "unaccompanied minors" were brought from Calais to the United Kingdom in a move accompanied by some controversy, as a number of supposed "child migrants" photographed among the coachloads of people transferred from the northern French town looked far older than 17, sporting deep wrinkles and receding hairlines.

Other reports by GizPress

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