UK-bound migrants build first ‘mini-Sangatte’ in Calais – and it’s a mosque
* Not to worry, Â it will help them integrate better…
By Peter Allen/Mail Online
Britain-bound illegal migrants have been given the equipment to start building their own ‘mini-Sangatte’ structures in Calais – and the first is a mosque.
The dramatic development saw the sacred place of worship erected on a stretch of wasteland nicknamed ‘The Jungle’ by the main port in the French town.
Hundreds of migrants live rough in the area, as they try to board UK-bound lorries and ferries heading for Dover every night of the week.
France’s Immigration Minister Eric Besson was so concerned for their welfare that he performed an astonishing U-turn, pledging better conditions for all.Â
Muslim asylum seekers in Calais will use the mosque for prayers five times a day- here they queue for food handouts distributed by local charity workers
He said that a number of ‘light buildings’ would provide everything from food and showers, to information about how to claim asylum once they arrive in Britain.
However, they also include spaces where the migrants can sleep and pray.
Many fear they will be act as a magnet to thousands more migrants to Calais, just as the infamous Red Cross refugee centre at nearby Sangatte did before it was closed in 2002.
Mr Besson, a former Socialist who joined President Nicolas Sarkozy’s government in January, said in an interview earlier this month: ‘With humanitarian workers and elected officials, we are moving towards the setting up of light structures around Calais.’
Calais municipal council officials today provided wooden foundation blocks, metal poles, weather proof tarpaulin and other building materials to the migrants.Â
Fears: The improved conditions could encourage more illegal immigrants to make the voyage to Calais and eventually the UK
They started work early this morning and – by sunset – had built their mosque within a few hundred yards of the port.
‘It will be the centre of their temporary community,’ said local charity worker, who asked not to be identified.
‘Many of the young men heading for Britain are Muslims and they need a place to worship.
‘These sturdy structures will also provide a place to sleep – they will be a big change from the bin liners, plastic sheeting and cardboard boxes which they are used to sleeping in.’
Up to 2000 migrants are currently sleeping rough in the area as they try to get to Britain, often paying up to Â£1000 to people smugglers.
There they will claim political asylum or else disappear into the black economy.
Mr Besson said the new buildings ‘will offer to foreigners without papers information services about their rights, but also sanitary facilities, and food points.’
An interviewer from Paris magazine VSD asked the minister: ‘So, you’re constructing mini Sangattes?’
Apparently un-briefed about the kind of structure which went up today, Mr Besson replied: ‘But they won’t be permanent sleeping centres for illegal migrants.’
The move represents a drastic change in policy by Mr Besson who during a recent visit to Calais promised to make the port ‘watertight’ to illegal migrants.
He said at the time: ‘We did not shut down Sangatte only to reopen it in another form, even a watered down one.’
‘The Jungle’, where a London journalism student was raped last summer, has become a notorious shanty town, with local councillors in Calais continually calling for it cleared out.Â
Mosques are any kind of buildings dedicated to Muslim worship. As well as being places of prayer, they can be used as centres of information, education, and the settlement of disputes.
In the Arab world, mosques were originally flimsy structures, often situated on open land.
All adult Muslims are expected to offer Salat prayers five times a day, and this is predominantly what the new one in Calais will be used for.