In the wake of mass migration into European countries, the European Union (EU) has announced that it will provide €5 million ($5.6 million) in additional funding to France for the construction of a new migrant camp.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls announced on Monday, August 31 that the EU would be providing the money to help the French government build a permanent refugee camp in the port city of Calais. A similar camp in the nearby town of Sangatte was closed 13 years ago, according to the Financial Times, but that hasn’t stopped thousands of migrants from settling down in squalid conditions as they prepare to cross the English Channel into the U.K.
Migrants have been fleeing their native war-torn countries throughout the Middle East and North Africa, especially places such as Syria and Iran where the Islamic State (ISIS) has posed an imminent threat or has already taken power. The asylum seekers have presented a significant problem for countries bordering the Mediterranean; Greece and Italy, in particular, have been struggling to control the influx of immigrants fleeing ISIS territory, the Belfast Telegraph recently reported.
According to the Wall Street Journal, thousands of migrants have left their home countries within the past year. Many hope to settle down in the U.K. permanently because England’s job market is relatively welcoming to foreigners.
France is also seeing a steep rise in the number of migrants who are seeking asylum. In Calais, it’s reported that anywhere between 3,500 and 5,000 foreigners are living in a huge makeshift camp nicknamed “The Jungle.” The United Nations stated that living conditions in The Jungle are “absolutely appalling,” but that hasn’t stopped thousands of migrants fleeing persecution from settling down in this makeshift French town.
For French citizens, who just celebrated their nation’s 226th year of independence on July 14, 2015, allowing persecuted foreigners to reside in the country — legally and safely — has spurred much debate. Across the EU, many countries have recognized that the migrant crisis in the Mediterranean is becoming a serious issue that needs a solution, but few countries have been willing to open their doors and allow migrants to cross their borders into safety.
In the French city of Calais, the indecision of local residents is especially evident. The Eurotunnel in Calais can see hundreds of migrants attempt to pass through — illegally — into the U.K. in just one night. Between constructing fences and bringing in riot police, the French and English governments have each spent millions of dollars to control migration.
The EU funding, on the other hand, will create a refugee camp in Calais — despite the disdain that locals have for the migrants — rather than try to keep migrants out entirely. The new camp is expected to house 1,500 people safely and will open up in 2016.
In 2015 alone, at least 340,000 refugees have crossed European borders. Foreign policy workers expect that this number will increase by at least 200,000 additional migrants by the end of the year.