International

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An immigrant runs behind a truck on its way to board a ferry at Calais in an attempt to
enter Britain illegally.

From France to Britain, Migrants Raise Concerns

May 06, 2008 06:00 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Asylum-seeking Afghans, Kurds and Eritreans are flooding French ports, waiting in makeshift camps to be smuggled across the English Channel.

30-Second Summary

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According to The New York Times, the migrants are drawn to Britain by “the English language, the absence of national identity cards and the possibility of illegal work.” So strong is their desire to enter England that they pay smugglers up to $1,000 for passage across the English Channel.

However, migrants are often waylaid at French ports, where they set up impromptu camps to wait for a chance to cross the channel.

The Red Cross refugee camp Sangatte, located outside Calais, had been a “magnet for illegal immigration” before being closed by the French government in 2002. In its place, “other camps have sprouted up,” including “a forest of thorns known as ‘the Jungle,’ beside the Tioxide chemical plant,” reports The New York Times.

The original Sangatte was home to thousands of refugee Iraqi Kurds, Afghans and Iranians, and was a source of tension between London and Paris. Britain accused France of inadequately policing its side of the channel tunnel, but France claimed it was “unable to cope” with the enormous influx of refugees, reported The Guardian.

In October 2007, a band of Iraqi refugees arrived in the northern French port of Cherbourg, awaiting passage to Britain. Although Local leaders were alarmed by their presence, many city residents supported the refugees, dubbed the “ghosts of Cherbourg,” who could not be deported because of the Iraq war.

In Britain, critics of the country’s open-door immigration policy are demanding reform and blaming the French for allowing migrants to repeatedly attempt passage from Calais.

Headline Links: Calais sees influx of illegal migrants

Background: The Sangatte refugee camp

Related Topics: Britain’s boiling immigration issues

Opinion & Analysis: A “window dressing” over suffering migrants

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