'Big new wall' to deter migrants at French port

Britain to start building barrier at Calais port, near 'Jungle' camp and Channel Tunnel

LONDON • Britain is to start building a wall in the northern French port of Calais to stop migrants from jumping onto trucks, under a deal agreed earlier this year, the Interior Ministry said yesterday.

Work on the 4m-high, 1km-long barrier on a port approach road will start this month and should be completed by the end of this year, officials said.

The wall, which will be funded by the British government under an agreement struck at a summit in March, will complement a security fence already up around the port and entrance to the Channel Tunnel.

"We are going to start building this big new wall very soon. We've done the fence, now we are doing a wall," Junior Minister Robert Goodwill told a parliamentary committee on Tuesday.

The wall, which is expected to cost €2.7 million (S$4 million), will be the latest barrier to go up around Europe as the continent struggles with its biggest migrant influx in decades.

Hungary has built a reinforced fence on its frontier with Serbia and Austria has announced plans for a massive new fence along its border with Hungary in a bid to shut down the Balkan migrant route.

  • CALAIS WALL

    €2.7m

    Cost of the wall to be built in the northern French port.

    4m

    Height of the wall.

    1km

    Length of the barrier.

Over in the US, Republican White House hopeful Donald Trump says he will build a wall along the border with Mexico funded by the Mexican government if he is elected.

The Calais wall was agreed following tens of thousands of attempted Channel crossings last year through trucks boarding ferries and the Eurotunnel.

On Monday, angry French truckers and farmers blocked the main routes in and out of Calais to call for the closure of the sprawling "Jungle" migrant camp. The Jungle, a squalid camp of tents and makeshift shelters, is home to some 7,000 migrants but charities say the number might be as high as 10,000 after an influx this summer.

Migrants from the camp sometimes use tree branches to create roadblocks to slow trucks heading for Britain, their destination of choice. When the trucks slow down, migrants try to clamber into the trailers to stow away aboard.

Drivers say migrants and people trafficking gangs have attacked their vehicles with metal bars. The drivers say despite the deployment of 2,100 officers around the port, the police are overstretched and unable to secure the roads.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve promised during a visit to the Jungle last week to close the camp down "as quickly as possible", but said it would be done in stages.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 08, 2016, with the headline ''Big new wall' to deter migrants at French port'. Print Edition | Subscribe