The EU has pledged an additional 5 million euros to France on a visit to the refugee flash-point city Calais. French Prime Minister Valls also called for stricter external border controls.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls and EU commissioners met in the refugee-packed city of Calais on Monday to assess living conditions and security concerns. The EU also pledged solidarity with France in managing the refugee crisis.
"We will never turn away those who need protection," promised Frans Timmermans, the vice-president of the EU commission. He also confirmed that Brussels would provide an additional 5 million euros ($5.6 million) to assist France with the thousands of migrants and refugees living in the Calais region. The humanitarian aid should help to finance a new refugee center which will hold around 1,500 people.
Over 3,000 refugees currently live in camps and refugee centers, also known as "the Jungle," in the northeastern port city. Refugees live in often squalid conditions in the camps while waiting to travel further into Britain.
Valls tried to deter migrants from coming to Calais on Monday, saying that security around the port and at the Eurotunnel had been "considerably reinforced."
"To come to Calais is to throw yourself into a dead end," he warned.
Call for more border guards
Both Valls and Timmermans called for more EU unity on refugees: "We need the cooperation of all member states. No one can hide." said Timmerman. Valls echoed this, saying that "too many countries are refusing to play their part. It goes against the European spirit and we can't accept it."
Migrants climb over a fence near Calais, France to get to the railway tracks that head to the Eurotunnel
The French prime minister also highlighted "the need for European border guards, particularly in crisis zones," saying that the Schengen zone - Europe's area with broad free movement across borders - was "not only about abolishing internal borders. It is also the reinforcement of our external borders."
Other prominent EU officials, such as European Parliament President Martin Schulz, have also called for increased cooperation between member states. The bloc's interior ministers are set to meet on September 14 in Brussels to find a unified European solution to the migrant issue.
rs/msh (AFP, dpa, Reuters)