UK to build ‘big new wall’ in Calais to stop migrants

Updated 8:46 AM EDT, Wed September 7, 2016
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Story highlights

A four-meter (13 foot) high wall will be built around the port of Calais

The city is home to the controversial migrant camp called the "Jungle"

(CNN) —  

Construction will begin soon on a “big new wall” in the French port city of Calais to prevent refugees and migrants from entering Britain, the UK has announced.

The four-meter (13 foot) high wall is part of a £17 million ($23 million) deal struck between Britain and France earlier this year to try to block migrants from crossing the English Channel.

“We’ve done the fence. Now we’re doing a wall,” British Immigration Minister Robert Goodwill announced at a government hearing on Tuesday.

It is the latest attempt to enhance border security in Calais, home to a controversial makeshift camp known as “The Jungle,” where thousands of displaced people live in squalid conditions.

The camp is notorious for being a major transit point for migrants, who often hop onto the back of UK-bound cargo trucks in the hopes of entering the country illegally. Many in “The Jungle” are reluctant to register as refugees in France because their preferred destination is Britain.

Despite current security measures – including a fence – Goodwill acknowledged that some people were still managing to get through to the UK.

“The security we’re putting in at the ports is being stepped up with better equipment. We’re going to start building this big new wall very soon as part of the £17 million package that we’re doing with the French,” he said.

The wall will be built along both sides of a 1-kilometer (0.6 mile) stretch of road approaching the Calais ferry port, according to the UK Home Office.

Truck drivers drive from Loon Plage to Calais.
PHOTO: PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images
Truck drivers drive from Loon Plage to Calais.

But British truck drivers criticized the wall as a “poor use of taxpayers’ money.”

Richard Burnett, head of the Road Haulage Association (RHA), said security levels needed to be improved not just within the port perimeter, but in the surrounding areas up to a distance of 5 kilometers (3 miles).

“It is imperative that the money to pay for a wall would be much better spent on increasing security along the approach roads,” he said. Currently, drivers are advised they should not to stop within 150 miles of the port.

Burnett said the RHA sympathized with the Calais businesses and residents affected by the influx of migrants, but said he was focused on the “drivers who now accept that physical threats are just a part of the job.”

“This is morally wrong and cannot be allowed to continue,” he said.

The wall is due to be completed by the end of this year.

Additional reporting by CNN’s Simon Cullen.