France's Macron visits Calais to preview new migrant policy

France's Macron visits Calais to preview new migrant policy

Mr Macron is visiting the northern city, where many migrants attempt to sneak across the Channel.

He said France's "duty is to protect those who are persecuted and are seeking asylum".

Mr Macron said: "I can not let the idea spread that some police forces use physical violence, confiscate personal belongings, wake up people in the middle of the night and use tear gas on water points when meals are distributed".

The migrant issue is set to become one of Macron's most tricky political tests because of splits in his newly formed Republic On The Move (LREM) party and public criticism from some of his closest allies.

"I think we can improve the situation without knocking everything down", Macron said later at Calais city hall.

The number of migrants living in Calais as they seek to break into Britain is thought to now stand at around 500 to 700, down from an estimated 7,000 before the "Jungle" was evacuated, but violent clashes between gangs of illegal immigrants still plague the northern French town, where a truck driver heading to the United Kingdom died a year ago as a result of migrant attack.

Under Macron, France was "a country that is snatching blankets from migrants in Calais".

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He joined a chorus of criticism for the EU's "Dublin" rules which say asylum seekers must be dealt with in the country where they arrive, creating a huge burden for frontline states like Italy.

When quizzed over whether Britain would cough up more cash as part of the 2003 Le Touquet accord, Mrs May's spokesman said: "This is an agreement which has served both sides well since its inception".

Macron was expected to lay out demands in Calais for Britain to take in more refugees from northern France and increase its funding for securing the border.

"In no case will we allow another Jungle to be established in Calais", he said in his Tuesday speech.

During and after the so-called Jungle camp's clearance a year ago, more than 750 "unaccompanied minors" were brought from Calais to the United Kingdom in a move accompanied by some controversy, as a number of supposed "child migrants" photographed among the coachloads of people transferred from the northern French town looked far older than 17, sporting deep wrinkles and receding hairlines.

Migrants regularly try to stow away on the hundreds of trucks crossing to Britain each day. This was 50,000 fewer than the year before. The accord has spared Britain from receiving floods of migrants at its doorstep like other European countries, putting the burden of blocking their entry to the United Kingdom on France.

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