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A NEW supercamp for illegal immigrants waiting their chance to cross the Channel to Britain could be in place within months. 

More than 300 religious and charity leaders were holding closed talks in Calais yesterday and today with a view to creating a new covered campsite that would act as an embarkation centre for would-be migrants.

And leaflets detailing key resources already on offer were being distributed this weekend to groups of refugees milling around the French port.

Home Office officials last night expressed dismay at the talks and senior executives from Kent County Council were arranging urgent meetings with their French counterparts.

The two-acre site would include a health centre and provide access to legal advice. Leaflets being distributed include information on the best ways to cross the Channel to Dover.

They reveal the location of churches that distribute clothing, identify make-shift campsites and carry assessments of every crossing point while listing port-side parking areas where illegal immigrants can attempt to smuggle themselves on to lorries. 

Plans for the new supercamp come just weeks after French Immigration minister Eric Bessan vowed never to allow another Sangatte – the Calais immigration centre bulldozed in 2002 as part of a Franco-British deal to stem the tide of migrants heading for the UK.

“We did not shut down Sangatte only to reopen it in another form, even a watered down one,” he said last month.

Claiming that rebuilding a permanent centre to house refugees in Calais would simply draw more to the region, he added: “Such a centre would immediately be submerged.

“It would not be a solution to the humanitarian problem. It would be an extra humanitarian problem.” 

More than 60,000 illegal immigrants are estimated to have made the crossing – many hiding in lorries – when Sangatte was in operation.

Today the number is said to have dropped considerably but some sources still put it at 30 illegal crossings a week.

The new site would be divided along national and cultural divides, with new refugees being directed to specific areas to avoid any racial tension between the disparate groups. 

Despite the imposition of a so-called 13-mile “no go” zone for refugees around Calais, hundreds of migrants could be seen desperately seeking food and shelter in the port town yesterday.

The supercamp would be at the heart of the new town of Grande-Synthe, outside Dunkirk, and just outside the Calais exclusion area.

Bordering the main A16 motorway from Belgium, it would be ideally located for migrants, 90 per cent of whom travel to Calais from Germany via Belgium.

Grande-Synthe has been heralded as a “forward thinking” town where 90 per cent of the population is under 25. Its residents broadly support the new camp, which would be situated in scrubland within an industrial estate.

“These people need help, and it is our duty to make sure they have a safe place to be, where they can be looked after properly,” said one local resident, who did not wish to be named.

British journalists were banned from yesterday’s meeting at the Maison Pour Tous in Boulevard Jacquard in the centre of Calais. 

But one organiser said the high level of organisation was aimed at ensuring that immigrants would pass through the camp and on to the UK as soon as possible.

Marie-Pierre Huyghes, of the Channel Crossing Support Group, Dunkirk, said: “These people need better health care and support.

“We should do more to help while they are with us. That is why groups are coming together to talk over problems and to find answers.”

Last night Paul Carter, leader of Kent County Council, said: “Building new facilities could potentially encourage more people to the area, creating more hardship, not less.”

A Home Office source said: “The fact that organisers are distributing leaflets with detailed information on how to beat the system is discouraging.”  continues here

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