SHAFAQNA – Work is about to begin on “a big, new wall” in Calais as the latest attempt to prevent refugees and migrants jumping aboard lorries heading for the Channel port, the UK’s immigration minister has confirmed.
Robert Goodwill told MPs on Tuesday that the four-metre high wall was part of a £17m package of joint Anglo-French security measures to tighten precautions at the port.
“People are still getting through,” he said. “We have done the fences. Now we are doing the wall,” the new immigration minister told the Commons home affairs committee.
Building on the 1km-long wall along the ferry port’s main dual-carriageway approach road, known as the Rocade, is due to start this month. The £1.9m wall will be built in two sections on either side of the road to protect lorries and other vehicles from migrants who have used rocks, shopping trolleys and even tree trunks to try to stop vehicles before climbing aboard.
It will be made of smooth concrete in an attempt to make it more difficult to scale, with plants and flowers on one side to reduce its visual impact on the local area. It is due to be completed by the end of the year.
The plan has already attracted criticism from local residents who have started calling it “the great wall of Calais”.
François Guennoc of Auberge des Migrants, a French aid group working in Calais, said: “This wall is the latest extension to kilometres of fencing and security surveillance already in place. It will just result in people going further to get round it.
“When you put walls up anywhere in the world, people find ways to go round them. It’s a waste of money. It could make it more dangerous for people, it will push up tariffs for people smugglers and people will end up taking more risks.”
reen Party MP Caroline Lucas called the wall “monstrous” while campaign group Citizens UK said the money could be better used to transfer child refugees with families in Britain from Calais.
Wall construction is expected to start this month and due to be finished by the end of the year.
A squalid camp of tents and makeshift shelters in Calais, branded “Concrete Jungle,” is home to some 7,000 refugees
Many of the refugees living at the Jungle and other camps in northern France attempt to reach the UK by getting on trucks as they approach ports or the Channel Tunnel.
The wall will be the latest barrier to go up in Europe as the continent struggles with its biggest refugee crisis since World War II.
When the trucks slow down, refugees try to clamber into the trailers to stow away aboard.