Calais rally for more police to control migrant influx
Monday, 13 October 2014, 14:23
INTERNATIONAL NEWS - Hundreds of people took to the streets of the northern French port of Calais Monday to demand a greater police presence in the face of an influx of migrants seeking to enter Britain.
Organisers said that 500 people took part in the march, which included shopkeepers, police officers and farmers. Local authorities put the turnout at 200.
"The police can no longer ensure the safety of Calais residents, so that's why we're asking the interior ministry for more police staff," said Thierry Depuyt, regional manager of the police union, which organised the event.
The gathering is "peaceful, with no racist connotations," he added.
Local government officials estimate there are around 1,500 migrants seeking to get into Britain, a four-fold rise since the beginning of the year.
But Depuyt said the real number was "between 2,000 and 2,500" and added there were "thousands at the gates of Italy heading to the British Eldorado."
Gilles Debove, a local police union official, said: "We don't have enough of us to intervene."
He said there had been a "many mobile phone thefts, incidents of shoplifting, attempted rapes and... a shopkeeper was attacked last week."
However, the head of public safety in Calais, Thierry Alonso, said: "In a city of 100,000 inhabitants, there are of course incidents of petty crime... not everything can be put down to the migrants."
In September, Britain agreed to give the French government up to 15 million euros (£12 million, $19 million) to help cover the cost of the incoming immigrants after the mayor of Calais threatened to close the port.
Many Calais residents are upset about the migrants' arrival and the anger has given rise to a new group called "Sauvons Calais" or "Save Calais", a far-right political organisation that has garnered more than 8,500 followers on Facebook.
It describes itself as "anti-immigration and against pro-migrant groups."