Published: 00:01, 02 September 2014 |
A Sangatte-style refugee camp which could act as a "refuelling stop" for illegal immigrants wanting to enter the UK is a step closer to reality.
Proposals are expected to be submitted today to house hundreds of people near Calais, which it is feared would encourage them to make perilous trips to Britain - potentially through Kent.
It is also believed officials are hoping to set up "welcome centres", providing advice to those hoping to reach our shores.
The plans, mooted by Calais mayor Natacha Bouchart, are believed to include a state-funded camp, providing shelter, food and washing facilities.
Mayor Bouchart said the town was under an "unbearable strain from the highest number of migrants we have ever known".
The plans, unveiled last month, came just days after a Calais immigration chief offered to pay for ferry tickets for migrants to come to Kent - after troubles flared and dozens were injured in French camps.
He even called for the border to be moved to Dover - so Britain can see what enormous pressure the French area faces.
But last night critics said Mme Bouchart's plan to open a dedicated camp would encourage huge numbers to flock to the Channel port.
Conservative MP for Kettering Philip Hollobone said it was "completely unacceptable" for the French authorities to provide a refuelling stop for illegal immigrants trying to get to Britain.
The situation has deteriorated in Calais this year because of a new wave of immigrants from Eritrea and Ethiopia.
Tens of thousands have crossed the Mediterranean after the collapse of Libya.
Madame Bouchart is expected to submit her proposal to French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve at a meeting later today.
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