UN Urges French Action on Calais Migrant Crisis

UN Urges French Action on Calais Migrant CrisisUN Urges French Action on Calais Migrant Crisis

France needs to draw up a “civil emergency” plan to give dignified accommodation to the estimated 3,000 migrants who are camping out in the northern city of Calais in the hope of crossing the Channel to Britain, the UN said on Friday.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said for the past year it had been calling for an “urgent, comprehensive and sustainable response” by Europe as a whole but especially by French authorities to the worsening asylum crisis and reception conditions in Calais, France24 reported.

“Let’s treat that as a civil emergency,” Vincent Cochetel, head of UNHCR’s Europe division, told AFP.

Some 3,000 migrants and refugees, including many fleeing war and persecution in countries like Syria, Libya and Eritrea are camped out in a makeshift tent village in Calais waiting for a chance to cross to Britain in what Cochetel described as “appalling conditions.”

Cochetel pointed out that both French and British governments had been opposed to setting up a large-scale reception center in Calais for fear it would become a “magnet” and attract more people.

He also criticized the lack of British cooperation in dealing with the situation, saying that London had refused to even consider applications for legal transfer from France of asylum seekers with close ties to the country.

 Italy Arrests Trafficking Suspects

Italian police apprehended five men on charges of multiple homicides and human trafficking on Friday. The arrests came after the feared drowning of more than 200 migrants after their boat capsized off the coast of Libya while trying to reach Europe.

Three Libyans and two Algerians were detained by police for questioning on Thursday after survivors of the shipwreck arrived in Palermo on Wednesday evening.

Surviving migrants gave testimonies alleging the suspects stabbed and beat passengers during the voyage, including locking many below deck.

More than 600 migrants are believed to have been onboard the overcrowded ship before it hit trouble and overturned in the Mediterranean Sea. An Irish navy vessel pulled 373 men, women and children from the water.