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Calais mayor threatens to block port over British immigration policy

Eritrean migrants in Calais hoping to cross the Channel.
Eritrean migrants in Calais hoping to cross the Channel. Reuters/Pascal Rossignol

The mayor of Calais has threatened to shut down the the French Channel port unless Britain helps end the influx of hundreds of immigrants, who hope to sneak into the UK, to the town.


There are around 1,300 immigrants in the northern French port of Calais at the moment.

Most of them are Eritreans, Somalians or Syrians and they are all seeking asylum in Great Britain.

Calais mayor Natacha Bouchart claimed on Tuesday that British immigration policy means immigrants "consider it an Eldorado" and reproached London for demanding tighter security at the Calais port but was not contributing enough to the cost, which she put at 10 millions euros a year.

Recognising that blocking the port “would be illegal”, Bouchart declared she wanted “to make a strong gesture towards the British”, after meeting French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve and asking him “to have tough negociations" with United Kingdom.

Cazeneuve, who was in London last Friday, had called on the British to help financially with security at the port, according to a ministerial source.

Bouchart and Cazeneuve agreed on opening a day centre for immigrants in Calais.

Most centres built to help immigrants have rapidly become overcrowded and have closed.


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