Neither Britain nor Europe are helping France's Calais over migrant crisis – city mayor to RT
Britain is not fulfilling its obligations regarding the migrant situation in Europe, the mayor of the French port city of Calais told RT. "Europe, in general, is not helping" either, the head of the city overcrowded with thousands of asylum seekers, said.
“Britain has obligations, but it doesn't fulfill them. Maybe British authorities are going to spend 15 million euros in the next three years to solve this problem, but in fact this money will not help the situation in our region at all,” Calais Mayor Natacha Bouchart told RT in an exclusive interview.
READ MORE: Calais chaos: Strike shuts down French port, migrants target UK-bound lorries (VIDEOS)
The money will be spent on “strengthening [the UK's] own borders,” she added, saying that Calais authorities have been asking to be provided with financial help to “compensate for damage caused by the British authorities' position.”
The Calais migrant crisis has been an ongoing source of bitterness between the French and British governments. Each side has been blaming the other for not doing enough to deal with an estimated 3,000 migrants living in degrading conditions near Calais while trying to cross illegally into the UK.
Saying that UK only acts in its own interests, including in its relations with the EU, “Britain makes advantage of what EU is giving it, but disregards its own obligations” within the bloc, the French official said.
Advice & interactive map http://t.co/vV9oEcQe7d for cross-Channel travellers in case of further disruption at #Calaispic.twitter.com/H522LXgnoR
— Dept for Transport (@transportgovuk) June 27, 2015
Recently, Britain has come under fire from leaders of other European states and the UN for refusing to accept its share of migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea. Having emotionally blamed the UK for rejecting its share of migrants, Italian PM Matteo Renzi said the country wasn't “worthy of calling ...[itself] Europe.”
“David Cameron's government should open a center for refugees on the territory of Great Britain,” Bouchart told RT. Other Calais officials have previously accused UK of being "blind and hypocritical" in its approach to migration.
READ MORE: ‘Not worthy to call yourselves Europe’: Italian PM attacks UK for rejecting share of migrants
But other EU members are not helping Calais, which is inhabited by migrants desperately seeking to enter Britain, either.
READ MORE: ‘Willing to die’: 30,000 migrants risk lives attempting to enter UK
"Europe, in general, helps with nothing. During the past months, me and my colleagues from cities of other European countries have warned EU of the problem several times,” Bouchart told RT. She has been insisting on the need to organize meetings and summits, where officials who face the problem on a daily basis should gather.
“This way we could explain our position, as on a European level no one has the idea of what's going on in cities like Calais,” the Mayor said.
The French port continues to be a ground for the growing number of illegal escapees to Britain. Thousands live in the shanty town, known as the "New Jungle," three miles north of Calais near the Channel port. Those living on a 40-acre stretch of wasteland and dunes are camped in tents and makeshift huts.
France arrests 100 British migrant smugglers in Calais http://t.co/sHMiY1r46spic.twitter.com/3UsVllUvcH
— RT UK (@RTUKnews) June 23, 2015
Calais has also been witnessing travel chaos after striking French workers blocked the port. While traffic through the Channel has been disrupted, desperate migrants used the confusion to stowaway on UK-bound lorries.
Speaking of the city needs, its mayor said both security and regulatory measures were needed to help deal with the situation.
“To guard the borders, the presence of law enforcement services is needed. Regulatory acts setting the maximum quantity of migrants who could seek asylum are also necessary,” Natacha Bouchart said, adding that such actions would make migrants themselves “best protected.”
READ MORE: French govt to equip Calais shanty town with toilets, electricity, water
On Friday, European leaders finally reached an agreement on the voluntary sharing of asylum seekers among EU members. The migrant crisis has become “the biggest challenge” for the bloc's unity, politicians admitted.
READ MORE: 60,000-migrant burden: EU leaders agree to share, but still don’t know how to go about it
While countries like Italy have taken on the challenge with enthusiasm, others – chief among them, France – are reluctant to allow or keep migrants on their turf. With the migration to Europe having increased by a staggering 149 percent from last year, far-right sentiments are continuing to spike across the continent, with a nationalist surge being seen in France, Switzerland, UK and other European nations.