Paris, January 17: President Emmanuel Macron of France on Tuesday came to Calais, the port city at the center of France’s migrant problem, to defend his policies as a mix of benevolence and firmness against critics who have accused him of inhumanity.
With France receiving a record number of asylum claims — 100,000 last year — Mr. Macron has been under increasing fire, especially from the left, for betraying France’s values.
The French president also accused certain organizations of lying about police brutality and encouraging people to remain in Calais and attempt the crossing to the United Kingdom. Macron visited Calais two days before a meeting with Theresa May to discuss the handling of the migration crisis at the Channel port.
His interior minister has been criticized for promoting searches of illegal migrants in emergency shelters and stepping up deportations. Police have been accused of ripping blankets away from freezing migrants.
He criticised unnamed humanitarian organizations for their “lies and manipulations” in “encouraging men and women to stay here and even to cross the Channel” and encouraging claims of violence by police and gendarmes.
But he also warned law enforcement officers their behavior must be “exemplary” and reminded them those migrants were “people who have traveled continents; these men and women are human beings”.
He vowed that Calais, the bedraggled port that is a focal point for migrants hoping to reach England, would never again be a dumping ground for them.