CALAIS, France (Reuters) - France plans to build a camp this winter for as many as 1,500 migrants in the northern port city of Calais where twice that many are living in tents and hoping to make the sea-crossing to Britain.
European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans, visiting Calais with French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, said the Commission would contribute 5 million euros ($5.6 million) to the new centre which will house people in large tents.
Europe is under increasing pressure to deal with the thousands of people fleeing there from wars in countries such as Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
Calais mayor Natacha Bouchart said the new facility would be welcome but fell short of what was needed.
“It’s a gesture but a pretty feeble gesture, it’s 25 million (euros) that would be needed,” she said.
Interior ministers are meeting in September and EU leaders on Nov. 11 to try to agree on a response to a crisis that has grown in intensity as tens of thousands of migrants try to cross the Mediterranean to Europe, many of them drowning.
A larger camp in Calais - the notorious Sangatte - was shut down more than a decade ago by former conservative president Nicolas Sarkozy but the city remains one of many migrant “hotspots” across the continent.
Writing by Brian Love; Editing by Louise Ireland