Calais wall not needed if French migrant 'Jungle' camp goes: Mayor

AFP , Thursday 8 Sep 2016

Migrants stand in line in the "Jungle" migrant camp, in Calais, northern France, on September 8, 2016 (Photo: AFP)

Calais Mayor Natacha Bouchart said Thursday there would be no need for Britain to build its promised wall in the northern French city once the squalid 'Jungle' migrant camp there is shut down.

The mayor's comments came a day after the British interior ministry said it would start building the wall in the northern port city, under a deal agreed earlier this year, to stop migrants jumping on trucks heading for Britain.

Bouchart said that such a wall "would no longer be relevant if we dismantle the 'Jungle'. I am against implementing it, as it would contribute to a negative environmental image for the city, with the thousands of tourists and travellers who pass by Calais every day".

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

The current plan is for the four-metre (13-foot) high, one-kilometre long barrier to be built on a port approach road starting this month and be completed by the end of this year.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve last week vowed to close the so-called Jungle camp in Calais "as quickly as possible" but said it would be done in stages.

The camp of tents and makeshift shelters in Calais is home to some 7,000 migrants but charities say the number might be as high as 10,000 after an influx this summer.

But the Calais mayor said it was "incoherent and incomprehensible" to announce at one moment the closure of the troublesome camp and then decide to build a wall to control the people living there.

The wall plan has also been criticised in Britain, with the Richard Burnett, chief executive of Britain's Road Haulage Association calling the 2.7-million-euro scheme "poor use of taxpayers' money".

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