-Article by Alice Ferré
“One does not respect and represent European values by displaying wire nettings that would not even be used for animals,” claimed former French minister of foreign affairs Laurent Fabius, after Hungary had built a fence on the Serbian border.
Like Hungary, France too has taken steps to prevent trespass across its borders. On December 12, the French city of Calais welcomed a new feature: a wall, one kilometer wide (0,6 mile) and four meters long (13 foot), built of steel and concrete. Last October, the city had dismantled a refugee camp on its outskirts, symbolizing Europe’s creeping fear and panic towards mass immigration.
The wall, standing near the city’s port and separating the former camp from a national highway, aims to prevent migrants from stowing away on merchandise trucks that cross the English channel. The British government itself financed the project in a 23 millions dollars deal struck with France.
Calais’ mayor, right-wing politician Natacha Bouchart, had opposed the construction last October, considering it as “useless” since the camp was dismantled that same month. Defending her viewpoint before the regional courthouse, the mayor did not seem alerted by the ethical concerns the wall produces, sparking conversations about a “wall dilemma” that has shaken other nations and triggered discussions on ethics recently. Rather, her motive is backed by urbanist and environmental concerns that this austere, gray wall may be of great disadvantage for the region’s landscape.
The courthouse rejected her demand to suspend the construction which now stands proudly. Advocates claim reasons for construction are more than a brake on immigration, as the infrastructure will first enhance road security and the drivers’ safety.
Truck drivers are the first affected by the influx of migrants. Indeed, most migrants try to stop traffic so that they can hop on the back of cargo trucks by tossing bags and obstacles on the highway. Such method puts drivers in precarious situations as declared Richard Burnett, head of the Road Halauage Association (RHA): “They now accept that physical threats are just a part of the job.” He thus demands more protections in the surrounding areas of the port, up to a distance of 3 miles.
Currently, drivers are advised not to stop within 240 kilometers (150 miles) of the port.