French and British governments agree to close Sangatte centre by next March

12 Jul 2002

The French and British governments have agreed a timetable for the closure of the Sangatte Red Cross Centre, after a meeting today between Home Secretary David Blunkett and his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy.

The camp will be closed by March next year at the latest, according to a Home Office statement. The deal is part of a package of measures to curb illegal immigration from northern France which includes installing UK immigration controls at Calais, similar to those already in operating in the Gare du Nord Eurostar station in Paris. Other measures are joint working to tackle people trafficking and a meeting with the Belgian government in September to discuss other routes from northern Europe.

Before the closure of the camp, the French and British governments have agreed to work with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, to screen people living at the camp and to provide advice and assistance with return to their country of origin.

Read the Refugee Council's statement on this story.