Calais mayor 'disgusted' by Cameron's refusal to take in refugees

LONDON - Prime Minister David Cameron has shown his contempt for Calais by not taking in migrants camped there, the mayor of the northern French port town told British lawmakers on Tuesday, saying she was "disgusted" by Britain's response to the crisis.

Cameron announced on Monday that Britain would take up to 20,000 Syrian refugees over the next five years, but that they will come from camps in Syria and neighbouring countries rather from those who have already reached Europe.

Around 3,500 migrants are camped in Calais, 90 per cent of whom are hoping to make the crossing to England rather than claim asylum in France, Calais mayor Natacha Bouchart told the British parliament's Home Affairs Select Committee.

"Mr Cameron despises, is contemptuous of Calais. If he doesn't take refugees from Calais that is proof that he is contemptuous of the population of Calais," she said.

"Does that mean that the people of Calais are going to be condemned to live in this situation forever?"

Asked what she thought of the British government's decision not to take in migrants already in Europe, something it says would merely serve to encourage others to make dangerous journeys, Bouchart said: "I am disgusted by that."

Freight and passenger traffic through the rail tunnel between Britain and France was repeatedly disrupted over the summer as migrants nightly tried to board trucks and trains in an attempt to get to Britain.

Bouchart, who called for British border controls in Calais to be returned to Britain, said she believed 50 million euros ($55 million) more of funding was needed from national governments and European authorities to help tackle the crisis.

Britain has already agreed several rounds of funding, including 10 million euros for humanitarian assistance, as well as extra security measures such as fencing.

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