French minister nixes aid center for migrants in Calais

AP News
Posted: Jun 23, 2017 11:23 AM

PARIS (AP) — France's interior minister said ruled out creating a help center for migrants in the increasingly tense port city of Calais, and said that the death of a truck driver blamed on migrants is also a humanitarian issue.

Rejecting demands from some humanitarian groups, Gerard Collomb said he feared that a help center would lure migrants back to the port city. Thousands of migrants were forced out of a makeshift camp in Calais in October.

Collomb said he will present a new asylum plan within two weeks to President Emmanuel Macron, as requested.

"We have to take into account what failed in the past ...," he said. "To have great humanity, you must all have great firmness."

The minister's visit came days after the death of a Polish truck driver whose small vehicle crashed into one of three big-rig trucks stopped by a blockade of tree trunks and branches. Over time, dozens of migrants have been killed, some by vehicles, but this was the first death of a truck driver.

"What happened a few days ago ... It's awful. It can't happen again," Collomb said. "That is also part of human rights for me, a dead Polish person. I think it's one dead person too many."

Leaving the Left
John Stossel

NGO's have criticized the response to migrants hiding out in Calais, which France's human rights defender, Jacques Toubon, called "inhuman or degrading treatment" following a visit this month. Among other things he recommended free access to water and place where migrants can rest and wash.

Calais and the coastal region have long attracted migrants trying to sneak across the English Channel to Britain. In the past, they arrived in large numbers during warm weather, when more migrants cross the Mediterranean in rickety boats.