French President to visit Calais amid migration row

French President to visit Calais amid migration row

Paris, Sep 26 (IANS) French President Francois Hollande will visit the port of Calais on Monday, days after setting out his plans to close the “Jungle” migrant camp there, a media report said.

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

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 1 km-long wall is being built along the main road to the port in an attempt to deter would-be stowaways. However, the British government has not confirmed the cost, the BBC noted.

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, Hollande is keen to close the rest of it.

Speaking on Saturday, 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.

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