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Britain, France Take New Measures to Control Refugee Flows - 2002-07-24

The British government said refugees in the country will not be allowed to work while their applications for asylum are being processed. The policy is meant to discourage people from seeking asylum in France as well as in Britain, especially those who use France as a temporary stopping point in their attempts to reach Britain.

The French government also is taking steps to control the flow of refugees between the two countries.

France has begun construction of a new refugee camp in the north of the country to replace the Red Cross-run camp at Sangatte.

Sangatte has been a magnet for people trying to get to Britain, because it is next to the entrance to the Channel Tunnel.

Hundreds of refugees have tried to get through the tunnel by hiding on freight trains. Thousands of trains have been cancelled because of the stow-aways, costing shipping companies millions of dollars.

The new camp is intended to quickly process asylum seekers and, unlike Sangatte, it will not have long-term accommodation facilities for refugees whose status is still being decided. It will be used primarily to hold illegal immigrants until they are expelled from France.

The British and French governments have agreed to close the Sangatte camp by next March, although the French say it could stay open if the British government does not take more steps to discourage asylum seekers.