Prime Minister gives update on Calais migrants situation

Migration – United Kingdom/dismantling of the “Calais Jungle” – Reply given by M. Manuel Valls, Prime Minister, to a question in the Senate (excerpts)

Paris, 3 November 2016


Yesterday, when I hosted a meeting with the President of the ADF [Assemblée des départements de France] – as Laurence Rossignol pointed out just now – and the first Vice-President delegate of the AMF [Association des maires de France], we took stock with the ministers concerned – Bernard Cazeneuve, Jean-Jacques Urvoas, Emmanuelle Cosse and Laurence Rossignol – of how the reception of families – adults and minors – was being organized.

But let’s go back over things objectively. Germany – this was its choice – has taken in 1.5 million migrants, under special conditions. Was France, the world’s fifth-largest power, with a population of 66 million, not capable of resolving the intolerable problem of Calais – intolerable both for the refugees themselves, who were living there in humiliating conditions, and for the people of the Pas-de-Calais and Nord, who were suffering the consequences? Was it not capable of distributing 5,000, 6,000 or 7,000 people across its territory under decent conditions, in accordance with its values?

We had to get rid of that camp, that so-called “jungle”. The operation was conducted with professionalism by the state services – the OFII [French Office for Immigration and Integration], OFPRA [French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons] and the prefecture – with the support, most of the time, of voluntary organizations and NGOs and thanks to the hospitality of the mayors, to whom I paid tribute yesterday. Admittedly, there may have been the odd communication problem, but even so! What image must France show the world? We must show our ability to fulfil our duty, namely to take in those fleeing war, torture and persecution.

The discussions with our British friends are sometimes tense, but they finally decided to take in several hundred minors who were in Calais. We must keep a close eye on this commitment.

The situation Paris is experiencing isn’t linked to that of Calais. It’s the result of the migratory situation in Europe. Look at what’s happening in Italy – where 25,000 to 30,000 people are arriving every week – or in Greece.

Look at what’s happening, too, on the other side of the Mediterranean. I had the opportunity to do so during my visit to West Africa: the migratory situation in Europe is partly being played out over there.

We must clearly guarantee the protection of our external borders.

As for me, I’m proud to lead a government that is acting to implement the right of asylum, because 80% of the Calais migrants, who come from Syria and the Horn of Africa, will be eligible for it. It is to France’s credit that it’s accomplishing that mission in the best possible way. (…)

We won’t allow certain people to stir up anger among the population and attack elected representatives, reception centres or the migrants themselves.

Appeals to the state’s authority are often made on these benches. The state’s authority is present in Calais, it will be present in the Stalingrad district of Paris and it will be present to enforce not only the laws of the Republic but also that international right, the right of asylum. It is to France’s credit that it has integrated that right into its legislation and is respecting it./.

Migration – United Kingdom/situation of unaccompanied minors in Calais – Communiqué issued by the Prime Minister’s Office

Paris, 2 November 2016

Manuel Valls, Prime Minister, today received, alongside Keeper of the Seals and Justice Minister Jean-Jacques Urvoas, and Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, representatives of the Assemblée des départements de France, the Association des maires de France and France Urbaine to give them a report on the Calais camp’s evacuation and set out to them the situation regarding the minors. As such, the Prime Minister thanked the elected representatives for their commitment alongside the government in managing this difficult humanitarian situation.

Regarding the minors, they will be transferred from the temporary reception centre in Calais to reception and guidance centres for minors (CAOMIs) up and down the country, from where the British authorities will study applications for departure to the United Kingdom. The situation of minors with no ties to the United Kingdom will be assessed, before they are gradually taken care of under ordinary legislation. As such, the department welcoming them on Wednesday [3 November] will not automatically be the one in which the CAOMI where they are first received is located.

The Prime Minister informed France’s departments that the government will take responsibility for caring for the minors and paying for the cost of this while their situation is assessed, and that negotiations will be started with departments on paying for the care of these minors once they come under ordinary child welfare legislation. In this context, he called on the departments to lend their benevolent support so that the operation, which will allow the Calais camp to be definitively cleared and ensure that unaccompanied minors are cared for in a dignified way, is a complete success./.

Published on 15/11/2016

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