CS2 - The Calais migrant crisis
What does the Calais Migrant crisis tell us about international migration to the UK?

1. Coming to Calais
• Fleeing to the EU
The mainly political push factors, as source/sending countries such as Syria are at war, explain why it’s a forced and not a voluntary migration of migrants from the arc of crisis desperately seeking asylum in the EU and Britain.
• The strain on the EU
- Migrants follow well-known migration pathways/routes and cross EU’s external closed border monitored by Frontex to enter the Schengen area. These inflows massively increased, up to nearly 2 million in 2015,
=> It explains why EU countries can’t process asylum claims fast enough which is why these migrants are undocumented, irregular migrants but also why some Schengen countries have re-established border controls.
• Concentrating in Calais
- Calais is the closest location and a major transit point to the UK as its ferry and EuroTunnel rail services are major transport routes for international passengers and goods. Migrants hoping to apply for asylum in the UK concentrate there and not in Dover due to the Touquet Treaty.
- As desperate migrants tried stowing away in cars and trucks bound for the Channel tunnel, Britain financed the building of a wall to protect drivers and transport companies’ business interests. However, while the media focus on Calais, it is not the main illegal entry point to the UK - international airports are.

2. Living(?) in and leaving(?) Calais
• The Calais nightmare
- Migrants living in the first planned transit camp of Calais in 2015 were women and children. As mainly young, educated, and mobile men arrived, it became the Jungle, an unmanageable makeshift camp which harboured up to 10,000 migrants which is why French authorities decided to close it in October 2016.
- This may not prove a long-term solution as a former Red Cross camp set up in Sangatte in 1999 was closed in December 2002 as it was also said to attract migrants. Migrants stopped coming to Sangatte but didn’t disappear: they concentrated in another Calais location. Closing the Jungle might cause the process to start all over again elsewhere because the UK is still a magnet for asylum seekers.
• The British dream
Indeed many pull factors explain why the UK is an attractive host/receiving country.
- Historically, a long-established diaspora lives in Britain due to its strong links with the Commonwealth, its former colonial empire.
- Relatives or global media (ICT rv) also transmit a positive image of the UK as a country offering the protection of the rule of law (which is true), but also the opportunity of benefiting from the Welfare State and from a less regulated job market (allowing undocumented immigrants to work) - which is definitely not the case.