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PARIS (AP) — Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Wednesday that firmness must accompany humanity in dealing with Europe's ongoing migrant crisis as officials announced plans for a new refugee center in Calais, where thousands of migrants have gathered in hopes of sneaking across the English Channel to Britain.
The humanitarian aid center, partially funded by the European Union, is expected to open by early 2016. It was unclear whether it will replace a squalid makeshift camp known as the jungle where an estimated 3,000 migrants now live. That camp sprung up around a center opened in April that houses about 100 women and children and provides showers and meals to migrants.
"The responsibility of us all is to make sure the right to asylum ... is respected everywhere. One cannot avoid it with barbed wire," Valls said at a news conference in Calais, referring to migrants who are fleeing war and persecution in their homelands. But, he said, migration by people seeking to escape poverty "must be combatted."
He tried to dissuade migrants from journeying to Calais, where the Eurotunnel and the vast port have recently bolstered security.
"Coming to Calais is throwing oneself into an impasse," Valls said.
European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans, among a handful of officials accompanying Valls, said the EU will give France an extra 5 million euros ($5.6 million) to build the camp, expected to aid 1,500 migrants.
The people in Calais are just a fraction of the unprecedented number flowing into Europe this year from places like Syria, Sudan and Eritrea.
Europe must share the burden of the migrant crisis, Valls said, with a fair distribution of those eligible for asylum, a plan that both France and Germany support.
"Too many countries are refusing to take their share," he said. "We cannot accept it."
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