Author: Jane Wharton
French authorities have built a 10ft high wall in Calais in a bid to stop migrants getting to Britain.
The barrier, which has just gone up next to a petrol station in the port town, has been compared to Donald Trump’s pet project in the USA.
Politicians claim it is there to stop people smugglers who ‘take advantage’ of the plight of migrants.
But campaigners say it is ‘ugly and divisive’ and clearly meant to demonstrate that vulnerable people aren’t welcome.
The wall has been constructed by a Total station in Calais, close to the ferry port where boats head off for England.
The area is said to be a key meeting point for people smugglers and migrants have police have come under attack from rocks while out on patrol.
Local prefect Fabien Sudry said: ‘The construction of the wall is explained by the presence of migrants and people smugglers on this site.
He added the area was a place where criminals ‘meet and take advantage of this station near the port to get migrants on to trucks.’
It is believed to be the first time that an entire wall aimed at stopping migration to Britain has been built alongside a problem area at such short notice.
It has already caused controversy, with local charity workers saying it followed Trump’s example with the belief that walls are one of the best way of dealing with illegal immigration.
‘The wall is ugly and of course divisive,’ said Caroline, a charity worker who is based in the town, and who asked to be referred to by her first name only.
‘This is very political – it aims to show desperate people that they are not welcome here, and that more and more walls and police will be used to keep them out. If you oppose such policies, you can get into a lot of trouble.’
A spokesman for Total confirmed that the wall was built at the request of the Calais prefecture to ‘protect customers, staff and migrants.’
Migration has again hit the headlines after Home Secretary Sajid Javid declared a ‘major incident’ over Christmas.
Since November there have been almost 500 people attempt to sneak into Britain after setting sail from northern France.
It is a change of tactic from previous years when most people would hide in the back of lorries travelling through the Channel Tunnel and into Kent.
Calais used to be home to ‘The Jungle’, an illegal settlement which, at its height in 2016, housed 8,000 men, women and children.
The vast majority, it was said, were wanting to claim asylum in Britain.
There are now around 600 migrants in Calais, mainly men from Afghanistan, Syria and Iran.
Refugee organisations have said that migrants from Iran could have more money than those from war-torn countries.
Therefore they are more likely to pay smugglers to help them make the crossing across the English Channel by dinghy.
In the past two years, Iranian citizens have made more UK asylum applications than any other nationality, according to the Government.
Mr Javid has now announced patrols will be stepped up in the English Channel, although on Sunday there were more boatloads of people landing in the UK.
There are also reports that migrants are using more sparsely populated areas further up the coast to land their boats in a bid to evade capture.