French police cleared a major makeshift migrant camp on its northern coast on Nov. 16 amid tensions with Britain over its handling of migrant crossings.
The camp near Dunkirk was home to around 1,500 migrants, including families with young children, hoping to reach Britain by crossing the English Channel.
“When we are dismantling a migrant camp, that’s above all to put people into shelters, especially as winter comes,” Government Spokesperson Gabriel Attal told France Inter radio.
French police regularly clears migrant camps around Calais and Dunkirk to offer migrants an asylum request in France. However, many refuse as they prefer to continue to head to Britain.
French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on Twitter that he instructed authorities to clear the camp located at the site of a former industrial complex in Grande-Synthe.
Darmanin also said that authorities arrested 35 suspected people smugglers in Dunkirk, bringing the total to 1,308 since January.
“These smugglers are criminals who exploit human misery, responsible for irregular immigration,” Darmanin said.
A day earlier, Darmanin spoke with British Home Secretary Priti Patel to discuss migrant crossings.
One of Darmanin’s aides, however, denied a link between the conversation with Patel and the clearing of the Dunkirk camp.
The aide told AFP News that the clearance was “scheduled for this date” before the conversation took place.
Tensions between France and Britain are at their lowest point in decades due to the influx of migrants, as well as fishing rights in the Channel and the submarine contract with Australia.
Britain has accused France of not doing enough to control the migrant crossings while France has accused Britain of failing to deter the migrants from crossing.
On Nov. 11, a record number of 1,185 migrants crossed the Channel, which the British government described as “unacceptable.”
© Fourth Estate® — All Rights Reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.