Squalid camps next to the derelict Hoverport in Calais are in danger of mushrooming into a new ‘Jungle’ full of Britain-bound illegal migrants, it was claimed today.
Just 24 hours after a mile-square stretch of wasteland was cleared of hundreds of mainly Afghan young men, the town’s mayor said she had ‘spotted between fifteen and twenty squats’ nearby.
Natacha Bouchart added that many were ‘close to the Hoverport’–a disused collection of buildings which closed in 2005 after the last hovercraft sailed from Dover to Calais.
While supporting the destruction of ‘The Jungle’, Mrs Bouchart conceded that it was just a ‘matter of time’ before another major squat was set up by the Afghans, and that the area around the Hoverport was an obvious location.
‘I’ve warned the regional authorities about this,’ said Mrs Bouchart. ‘The buildings are dangerous to migrants, with just one match all it would take to start a fire.’
The squalid conditions were almost identical to those in the so-called ‘Jungle’, less than half-a-mile inland, which was razed at dawn on Tuesday by some 500 riot police.
French Immigration Minister Eric Besson had viewed the closure of the camp as being a crucial step in his plan to make Calais ‘watertight’ against people smugglers and migrants.
But although there were 278 arrests, including 132 claiming to be minors under 16, many were back on the streets within 24 hours, ready to resume their attempts to get to Britain, where they will claim asylum or disappear into the black economy.
At the end of August frontier police arrested 11 Afghan migrants including a child of 14 in a camp by the Hoverport.
The disused terminal and offices, which date back to the late 1960s, are alongside a stretch of motorway slip road where England-bound lorries regularly slow down.
All those arrested had been trying to break into the back of the HGVs in between living and sleeping in a camp surrounded by rubbish, with no toilet or cooking facilities.
‘The Hoverport is a place which has proved particularly popular with Afghan migrants,’ said a Calais police spokesman.
‘We raided it on August 27, dismantling a camp and making a number of arrests. There have been further attempts to re-establish a camp at the Hoverport–something which has continued since the dismantling of the Jungle.’
Of the 11 Afghans arrested at the Hoverport last month, none agreed to claim asylum in France, and also said no to voluntary repatriation back to their homeland. Instead they all made it clear that they wanted to start new lives in Britain.
Accordingly, like the majority of former Jungle residents, all were freed within 24 hour hours–the legal limit within which frontier police could hold them–leaving them free to try to get to the UK again.
Faced with such statistics, opponents of Mr Besson’s decision to destroy The Jungle accused him of an expensive publicity stunt which simply displaced the migrants, rather than getting rid of them.
Martine Aubry, leader of France’s opposition Socialist Party and the Mayor of Lille, described the razing of the camp as a ‘totally inhuman act which doesn’t solve the problem.’
She said that the migrants ‘will go elsewhere, they’ll set up a little home in a place which is even more dangerous where they’ll try to survive.’
It came as the local authorities in Calais also pinpointed wartime blockhouses which once formed part of Nazi Germany’s Atlantic Wall against an Allied invasion as becoming particularly popular with migrants.
‘Doorways have been forced open, with the migrants turning them into secret homes,’ said a Calais Council spokesman.