France’s Hollande visits Calais amid ‘Jungle’ migrant row

French President Francois Hollande is visiting the port of Calais, days after setting out his plans to close the “Jungle” migrant camp there.

He has said he intends to close the sprawling camp and move migrants to reception centres across France.

Mr Hollande will meet police, port officials, and politicians but is not expected to visit the camp itself.

He has faced criticism over conditions in Calais, which he acknowledged were “unacceptable”.

During Monday’s visit he is also due to inaugurate an extension of the Calais port.

Up to 9,000 migrants live in the Jungle amid squalid conditions, many of them hoping to enter the UK illegally by hiding on lorries crossing the English Channel.

A UK-funded wall 1km (0.6 miles) long is being built along the main road to the port in an attempt to deter would-be stowaways. The UK government has not confirmed the cost, but it is reported to have contributed about £1.9m (€2.2m).

Work began last week, and is due to be finished by the end of the year.

Half the Jungle camp was dismantled earlier this year and, with immigration set to be a key issue in next year’s French presidential election, Mr Hollande is keen to close the rest of it.

Speaking on Saturday, Mr Hollande promised to “completely dismantle” the Jungle and set up “reception and orientation centres” to take in asylum seekers.

“We will provide a humane, dignified welcome to people who will file for the right of asylum,” he said. Anyone not given asylum in France would be deported.

France’s Socialist president has not yet announced whether he will run for the presidency next year, but he is under political pressure from centre-right Republican opponents campaigning on platforms of security and national interest.

Among them is former President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is among seven candidates seeking the Republican nomination..

Mr Sarkozy visited Calais last week.

Source: BBC