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Calais: No good options

The saga of migrants stuck in Calais continued in September with a raid on their camp.

But about 20 associations that regularly work with migrants warned in an open letter the day before the raid that the operation would not only be ineffectual but would make an already bad situation worse. “Destroying the makeshift shelters and scattering the camps is to deliver the migrants to criminal networks and to fix nothing on a deeper level,” the letter said. The move was a continuation of “the mistake of 2002.” 

Liberation said: “Since Sangatte, the reality is that France, but also the European Union has failed to address the problem of migrants. The influx of undocumented migrants in the jungle of Calais, but also in Lampedusa, Gibraltar or elsewhere, requires a European-wide plan.” As if anticipating the naysayers, Besson acknowledged that razing the camp would not solve all the problems but it was an important step. He said he shared people’s perception that the “incoherence” of a Europe-wide immigration and asylum policy exacerbated the problem but he assured he was “actively working on it.”

A Calais official says that hundreds of migrants are still in the camp's vicinity, while one news report said migrants are starting to return to the area. 

Some of Besson's proposals include establishing a real border patrol force as well as a maritime unit to intercept migrants at sea and repatriate them if necessary and according to international law. He said it was out of the question that he would choose between “restoring the rule of law in Calais and negotiating with the European Union.” He intended to fight on both fronts and hoped to adopt an action plan by the end of October. 

But pressing questions persist now about the fate of the migrants and what will happen when there is another influx, as many predict. 

According to the government, of the 276 migrants detained, about 125 were determined to be minors. They were scattered to group homes while their situations are assessed. A few of the 151 adults were released if it was possible to determine that they had asylum cases pending, while the vast majority was dispersed to detention centers. Five people were being treated for scabies while another 14 have asked for political asylum. 

Two people with the authorization to remain in France, after having been granted asylum, had stayed in the camp in the hope of crossing into the U.K., the government said.