Home immigration French minister issues urgent warning to dismantle Dunkirk migrant camp

French minister issues urgent warning to dismantle Dunkirk migrant camp


A SPRAWLING migrant camp near the northern port town of Dunkirk was to be dismantled “as soon as possible”, French interior minister Bruno Le Roux said.

The news comes less than five months after the Jungle refugee camp in the neighbouring town of Calais was reduced to dust and rubble by the authorities.

The Grande-Synthe tent camp in Dunkirk is currently home to more than 1,500 UK-bound refugees – mostly from Iraq, Iran, Syria and Afghanistan – and is said to be dangerously overcrowded.

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Addressing a Senate committee on Wednesday, Mr Le Roux said Grande-Synthe residents were behaving in an “unacceptable manner” and posed a “threat” to public order.

Mr Le Roux was referring to a tense standoff between migrants and riot police which took place on Tuesday when he said 200 migrants stormed a motorway and set fire to a barricade.

He said: “The question today is no longer solely about the need to restore public order.

“It is about the progressive dismantling of the camp, which must begin as soon as possible. We cannot let things go on like this.”

Mr Le Roux added that migrants were restricting access to showers and other facilities and demanding ransoms and loans for their use.
The Socialist minister further added the emergency tent camp had become a “migrant magnet”, and that the only way to reduce the number of migrants coming to northern France was to “tear it down”.

The Green mayor of Grande-Synthe, Damien Carême, for his part, warned on Wednesday he would oppose plans to dismantle the camp.

He told the AFP news agency: “I wasn’t at all aware of this, I’m very surprised. I don’t agree.”

Mr Carême said the humanitarian camp was “more necessary than ever”, before adding the makeshift settlement had been set up last year because the French government had “failed to adequately address” the refugee crisis.

He said: “There is no solution! If the camp has a population of 1,500, it’s because migrants are being turned away from reception centres and have nowhere else to go.”

Regional state authorities, however, are due to sign this month an agreement between the state, the town of Grande-Synthe and the charity that runs the camp to extend its use for another six months.

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