UK pledges more resources as Calais crisis worsens

Migrants attempting to enter tunnel nightly, as French lorry strike exacerbates traffic chaos

A fire  started by striking French ferry workers caused further delays to traffic on the French side. Photograph: Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images

A fire started by striking French ferry workers caused further delays to traffic on the French side. Photograph: Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images

 

British prime minister David Cameron has pledged additional resources to deal with the migrant crisis at Calais, but warned that disruptions to travel services could continue throughout the summer.

The promise of new resources came as a fire set alight by French ferry workers in protest at recent job losses exacerbated delays on the motorway leading to Calais.

Mr Cameron, who was due to speak by telephone to French president François Hollande last night, held a meeting of the emergency Cobra committee in London on returning to Britain from a tour of southeast Asia.

Describing the situation in Calais, which has seen thousands of migrants attempt to enter the Channel Tunnel, as “unacceptable”, Mr Cameron said more fencing and sniffer dogs were to be sent to France to help authorities there secure the Eurotunnel site. This is in addition to 4km of high-spec fencing pledged by Britain on Monday.

Lorry parks

England

A section of the M20 motorway has been closed to facilitate “Operation Stack”, which has seen up to 6,000 lorries line up in the routes approaching the English Channel, disrupting passenger traffic heading towards the coast.

French officials said more attempts by migrants to enter the tunnel were made on Thursday night, while the situation was exacerbated when a fire was started by striking French ferry workers, causing further delays to traffic on the French side. Tyres were set alight by about 12 ferry workers protesting at the loss of 600 jobs earlier this year.

Migrants have been staying at makeshift tents near Calais, known locally as “the jungle”. Human rights groups have warned of deteriorating humanitarian and sanitary situation at the camps, which have become temporary homes for migrants looking to reach Britain following the closure of an official centre at the town of Coquelles by French authorities in 2009.

Earlier this week private operator Eurotunnel called on France and Britain to tackle the security breaches at the Channel Tunnel site, which has seen at least nine people lose their lives since June. On Tuesday night a Sudanese man in his 20s is believed to have died having been struck by a lorry disembarking the tunnel.

Humanitarian crisis

EuropeDeirdre CluneEuropean Commission

“Four thousand migrants are based in a refugee camp near Calais, many of whom are attempting to cross into the UK on a nightly basis. The French authorities are not dealing with this situation, which is getting worse by the day,” she said this week.