Signs in Calais’ “Jungle” seem to indicate that more and more migrants looking for a better life are choosing to stay in France rather than attempt the perilous trip to Britain.
The camp has been the focus of a cross-channel political debate that has become increasingly heated since Britons voted in June to exit the European Union.
Khalid Mansour, a 44 year-old from Sudan who has been in Calais for a year, is currently in the process of applying for asylum in France, saying it’s the best option for him but for others too.
Yes, England is good but France is better, better, more than every country in Europe I think.
“The solution is to make their asylum here because France it is a very good country and it is… This country means future to who wants, to who search about their future it’s here in France, not in the U.K.,” he said.
For 25 year-old Ismael Mohammad, whose dream is to become an aircraft mechanic, France has more to offer than other European countries.
“Yes because it’s France, more chance for the studies, for anything for people and the refugees, I think France is better than England. Yes, England is good but France is better, better, more than every country in Europe I think,” he said.
Calais’ state-funded temporary welcome centre, made of containers which welcome 1,500 migrants, is set to remain after authorities clear the surrounding makeshift camp as announced by Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve on Friday.
Its director Stephane Duval said he too had noticed a change in attitudes among the migrants.
“The effect we’ve seen — especially in recent months — is that the population is more keen to seek asylum in France and to stay in France. A few months back, when you asked anyone in the camp whether they wanted to go to England or to stay in France, a majority would answer England. It’s now changing,” he said.
NGOs based in the town also say they have noticed that more and more are turning to France to start asylum procedures, although a majority still have Britain as their ultimate goal.
The camp’s population has swollen to about 7,000 migrants from 4,500 in June, according to local authorities. Humanitarian groups put the number closer to 9,000.