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French mayor fails in bid to stop anti-migrant 'Calais Wall'

Philippe Huguen, AFP | Protesters march down the so-called 'Jungle' refugee camp in the French northern port city of Calais on October 1, 2016.

The mayor of the northern French port of Calais on Monday failed in her bid to halt construction of a wall aimed at stopping migrants from reaching Britain.

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Calais Mayor Natacha Bouchart, who pledged on September 23 to use "all legal weapons in my possession" to fight the controversial barrier, filed an injunction to halt work on the wall.

The mayor argued, "Calais residents are fed up with seeing barriers and barbed wire everywhere. They feel completely hemmed in."

But the local administration immediately overruled the move, allowing the work, which began on September 20, to continue.

The British-funded wall, which will be one kilometre (half-a-mile) long and four metres (13 feet) high, will pass within a few hundred metres of the sprawling migrant camp known as the "Jungle", which holds between 7,000 and 10,000 people. The camp has come to epitomise the European migrant crisis.

Infograhic showing the outline of the Calais camp wall

The centre-right mayor, who initially favoured a wall, also said there was now no need for it because French President François Hollande had said the sprawling "Jungle" camp must be "completely dismantled... before winter” during a visit to Calais in September.

British truckers association opposes the wall

Most of the migrants -- mainly from Sudan and Afghanistan -- in the infamous camp are hoping to head to the UK by stowing away on tucks heading across the Channel.

Truckers are frustrated by the migrants' often dangerous attempts to board their vehicles illegally, and local businesses say the migrants have become an economic drain on the city. However a major British transport and freight trade association has opposed the wall plan. Richard Burnett, chief executive of the Road Haulage Association told AP that the funds "would be much better spent on increasing security along the approach roads".

The wall is meant to prevent migrants from reaching a bypass road in order to board trucks heading through the Channel tunnel.

Britain is paying the 2.7 million euro ($3 million) cost of the wall, which Calais authorities say will be completed by the end of the year.

The wall is part of a £17 million (20 million euros) package of security measures agreed by Britain and France in March to tackle to crisis.

This picture taken on August 16, 2016, shows an aerial view of the sprawling "Jungle" migrant camp in the northern French port city of Calais.
This picture taken on August 16, 2016, shows an aerial view of the sprawling "Jungle" migrant camp in the northern French port city of Calais.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)
 

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