In Calais, since December, at least three people have died trying to cross to the UK, with at least one other seriously injured. In the last week two squats were opened and illegally evicted by the French police. And the president of the Republic paid a visit.
Emmanuel Macron’s visit to Calais was greeted with banners hung around the area where food is distributed. Macron did not visit the food distribution area and instead he chose to go to the Town Hall to meet with the the Mayor of Calais, Natacha Bouchart. Marcon made a surprise announcement while in Calais, the French state will now take over food distribution. Having snubbed his invitation in protest, several associations working in Calais have made their thoughts of Macron and his asylum policies well known.
After his stop in Calais, Marcon then made his way to the UK where he met with the British Prime Minister, Theresa May. During their meeting they discussed the treaty of Le Touquet. This is the agreement, signed in 2003, which means that British border controls begin in France. The signing of Le Touquet, along with the closure of the Red Cross centre in Sangatte, have defined conditions for people without papers in Calais for over 15 years. The lack of accommodation provision, the constant need to expel people from the city, the huge number of police this requires, and the increased border defences to stop people from crossing ‘illegally’ are all a result of Le Touquet. This agreement, between two of the richest governments in the world, has turned a corner of France into a deadly vortex for anyone who is trying to seek a new life in Britain. The treaty of Le Touquet has made Calais and other ports along the French coast into places of suffering for anyone who doesn’t have the legal means to cross the channel. Without an end to Le Touquet there is no solution.
After Macron’s meeting with May, the UK government have agreed to increase spending in Calais and across the north French coast. Adding another £45 million, taking the total spent by the British government since 2016 to £160 million. This means more money for infrared cameras, more money for border walls around other ports like Ouistreham and Dunkirk, more police, and more violence. While Macron would like to play the part of the ‘fair but firm’ humanitarian, the new kid on the block, it seems that what he is actually doing is continuing along a path of ignorance paved by twenty years of failure. A failure that has caused the deaths of over 200 people and injured countless more.