French President Announces that Country will Shut Down “Jungle” Migrant CampOctober 13, 2016 in France
On 26 September, French President Francois Hollande stated that France will completely shut down “the Jungle” migrant camp in Calais and called on London to help deal with the plight of thousands of people whose dream is ultimately to get to Britain.
Speaking during a visit to the northern port city, where as many as 10,000 migrants from war-torn countries like Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria live in squalor, President Hollande stated that “the situation is unacceptable and everyone here knows it,” adding, “we must dismantle the camp completely and definitively.” While France is planning to relocate the migrants in small groups across the country, right-wing opponents of the Socialist leader are raising the heat ahead of next year’s election, accusing the French leader of mismanaging a problem that is ultimately a British one.
While the migrants in Calais want to enter Britain, the UK government is arguing that migrants seeking asylum need to do so under European Union (EU) law in the country where they enter. Immigration was one of the main drivers of Britain’s vote in June to leave the EU, and it is likely that the issue will be a major factor in France’s presidential election next year. If France stopped trying to prevent migrants from entering Britain, Britain would ultimately find itself obliged to deal with the matter when asylum-seekers land on its shores a short distance by ferry or subsea train from France’s Calais coast. President Hollande reminded Britain of this, stating that he expects London to fully honour agreements on managing the flow of migrants. London and Paris have struck agreements on issues such as the recently begun construction of a giant wall on the approach road to Calais port in an attempt to try to stop migrants who attempt daily to board cargo trucks that are bound for Britain.
In response to Monday’s comments by the French leader, a British government spokesman stated that “what happens in the Jungle is ultimately a matter for the French authorities, what they choose to do with it.” The spokesman further disclosed that “our position is very clear: we remain committed to protecting the shared border that we have in Calais,” adding, ‘the work that we do with France to maintain the security of that border goes on and will go on, irrespective of what happens to the Jungle camp.”
Paris to Open New Refugee Camp Next MonthSeptember 30, 2016 in France
Paris, France is to open its first refugee camp in October in response to asylum seekers living in the city’s streets.
Mayor Anne Hidalgo has disclosed that a camp to house 400 men would be opened at a site in the north of the city in mid-October while a camp for women and children, in the suburb of Ivry-sur-Seine, will follow by the end of the year. Makeshift camps have appeared in public areas and streets in Paris, before being cleared by police. Hundreds of people dispersed in the city hours before the latest announcement. The two camps will cost an estimated 6.5 million euros (US $7.3 million; £5.4 million) and will provide shelter and medical care for asylum seekers for five to ten days.
Meanwhile investigators have disclosed that a planned centre for 200 asylum seekers in Essonne, which is located 30 km (20 miles) southwest of Paris, was set on fire overnight. The planned centre in Essonne, at Forges-les-Bains, was due to take in ninety people in October. French media have reported that a meeting on 5 September to discuss it was attended by protesters who dispersed late in the evening. The fire was reported to the authorities at about 2:30 local time (00:30 GMT). French police are expected to launch an investigation into the case of the fire.
Calls have also been mounting to close th emigrant camp in Calais, in northern France, near the entrance to the Channel Tunnel. Earlier in the week, protesters causes severe disruption as they blocked roads near the port town, demanding the closure of the “Jungle” camp. Hundreds formed a human chain, joined by farmers and local businesspeople. Calais mayor Natacha Bouchat, who was amongst the protesters, stated that things were “becoming unbearable and something needs to be done.” About 7,000 migrants now live in the “Jungle,” with many attempting to reach Britain in lorries crossing the Channel. In August, the authorities in France and the United Kingdom agreed to increase security and humanitarian aid in Calais and to further secure the Channel Tunnel.
Malian President Warns of Further Insecurity in West African CountrySeptember 23, 2016 in Mali
On Friday, Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar warned the United Nations that the failure to fully implement a nationwide peace accord was helping al-Qaeda and Islamic State (IS)-affiliated groups spread their influence in the West African country.
Speaking at a high-level meeting on Mali at the annual UN General Assembly, President Keita stated, “we have to admit that several factors are contradicting our will and effort,” adding, “in particularly the extension of terrorism and banditry and security of neighbouring countries because of the desire of terrorist groups affiliated to al-Qaeda and Islamic State seeking to expand.” The president further disclosed that Islamists were using the slow implementation of peace accords in order to “manipulate” and “destroy” links between different ethnic groups in Mali. One incident, a clash in the north that erupted earlier this week between pro-government Gatia milita and the Tuareg separatist Coordination of Azawad movements, has highlighted the fragility of the UN-backed deal, which was singed last year between the Malian government and northern armed groups. That agreement is meant to end a cycle of uprisings. Also speaking at the meeting was Algerian Foreign Minister Ramtane Lamamra, whose country is leading mediation efforts in Mali. Lamamra disclosed, “we must redouble our efforts,” adding, It’s terrible that signatories of the accord are involved in the fratricidal killings.” Meanwhile French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, whose country has thousands of troops deployed across West Africa in a bid to hunt down militants, disclosed that the security situation was “in general satisfying despite asymmetric attacks.”
UN peacekeepers are deployed across northern Mali with the aim of stabilizing the vast region, which was occupied by separatist Tuareg rebels and al-Qaeda-aligned Islamist militants in 2012, before France intervened the following years. Tit-for-tat violence between rival armed groups however has distracted the West African nation from fighting Islamist militants. Furthermore, the country has become the deadliest place for UN peacekeepers to serve. On Thursday, the international mediation team, which includes the UN, Europeans Union (EU), African Union (AU) and regional bloc ECOWAS, disclosed that it believed the situation could not continue without compromising the agreement. The international mediation team also threatened international sanctions on those responsible for blocking the deal’s implementation.
France Warns that IS Militants May Flee Libya Towards Egypt and TunisiaSeptember 21, 2016 in Syria
France warned in early September that so-called Islamic State (IS) group fighters could flee towards Egypt and Tunisia after being flushed from their former Libyan stronghold of Sirte.
Speaking on 5 September during a defense conference in Paris, French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian warned that “we should begin to look seriously at the question of the spread of the terrorists once Sirte…(is) emptied of the terrorists.” He further disclosed that “they don’t disappear. There’s a new risk that appears,” adding, “indirectly this will pose new risks for Tunisia and Egypt.” He also indicated that it was a “shame, perhaps political reasons prevent it, that all the neighbouring states of Libya don’t meet” over the issue.
Le Drian’s Tunisian counterpart, Farhat Horchani, has also called for effective regional coordination. Horchani, who attended the same defense conference in Paris, stated, “we have a large number of foreign fighters who arrived from Sirte, or from Syria. I can see no strategy, no cooperation between the states,” to deal with the problem.”
Forces loyal to Libya’s UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), which has been backed by weeks of US air strikes, have recaptured nearly all of what had been the jihadists’ main stronghold in the North African country. On 3 September, pro-GNA forces launched a new attack against IS in Sirte, reporting the following day that it could take several days to gain full control of the city.
IS took advantage of the chaos in oil-rich Libya in the wake of the 2011 uprising. They went on to seize Sirte in June 2015, which sparked fears that the jihadists would use it as a springboard for attacks on Europe. While the loss of Sirte would be a reversal for IS, French and US figures indicate that there are between 5,000 and 7,000 jihadists that remain in Libya, with one French security source disclosing that many “have evaporated in th south of he country.”
French Prime Minister: France Foiling Terror Plots ‘Daily’September 14, 2016 in France
The French Prime Minister has disclosed that the country’s security services are foiling terror plots and dismantling militant networks “every day.”
Speaking to French media, Prime Minister Manuel Valls stated, “today the threat is at a maximum, and we are a target,” adding, “every day intelligence services, police, foil attacks, dismantle networks, track terrorists. There are about 15,000 people in France who are monitored, because these people are in the process of radicalization.” The Prime Minister warned that there will be further attacks. Authorities had previously indicated that about 10,000 were identified as high-risk.
The report comes in the wake of two high-profile arrests. On 10 September, a boy of 15 as arrested at his home in Paris on suspicion of planning an attack over the weekend. Investigators have reported that he had been under surveillance since April and had been in touch with a French member of the so-called Islamic State (IS) group, Rachid Kassim. Meanwhile on 4 September, a car loaded with gas cylinders was found near Notre Dame cathedral and jerry cans of diesel, leading to the discovery of a plot to attack a Paris railway station under the direction of IS. Seven people, including four women, have since been arrested. Prosecutors have since charged one of the women, Ornella G (29), with alleged involvement in a terrorist attack and attempted murder. On Friday, Paris prosecutor Francois Molins disclosed that Ornella G’s fingerprints had been found inside the car. She was known to intelligence agents as someone who was considering going to Syria. She was arrested on Tuesday in southern France along with her boyfriend, who has since been released. The three other women were questioned by police and are alleged to have been planning other “imminent and violent” attacks. One of the women stabbed a police officer during her arrest. It has been reported that French Islamist militant Kassim also guided one of the women. French newspaper Le Monde has reported that Kassim is currently in Syria and has used Telegram, the messaging service, to call for more attacks in France. Sources have disclosed that Kassim, 29, inspired two men who carried out an attack in July in a French church during which they slit the throat of the elderly priest.
While France has been under a state of emergency since IS attacks on Paris in November 2015, which killed 130 people, a recent commission of inquiry found that the state of emergency was only having a “limited impact” on improving security. The commission has also questioned the deployment of between 6,000 and 7,000 soldiers to protect schools, synagogues, department stores and other sensitive sites.
Security is becoming a central issue in the run-up to next year’s presidential election. Mr Valls however has stated that proposals by former French President Nicholas Sarkozy, to set up special courts and detention centres are not the answer. In August, Mr Sarkozy announced that he would run again for the presidency, stating, “every Frenchman suspected of being linked to terrorism, because he regularly consults a jihadist website, or his behaviour shows signs of radicalisations or because is in close contact with radicalized people, must be preventively placed in a detention centre.”