الإثنين , يونيو 8 2020

Cameron in warning to Calais migrants

Migrants walk in the direction of the Eurotunnel in Coquelles near Calais, northern France, on late July 29, 2015

Britain will not become a “safe haven” for migrants in Calais, David Cameron has warned, after hundreds continued their attempts to reach the UK.

The prime minister warned illegal immigrants would be removed from the UK, as migrants told the BBC they remained determined to reach Britain.

Mr Cameron was speaking after people gathered for a third night at fencing at the Channel Tunnel freight terminal.

More than 3,500 people have tried to get into the tunnel terminal this week.

Several hundred migrants were escorted away from the terminal by French police on Wednesday night – the third night of large-scale attempts to storm the terminal.

At the scene

Lucy Williamson, BBC correspondent

As night fell, the road towards the Channel Tunnel started to come alive. Groups of 10 or 12 migrants, moving steadily along the darkened highway, jackets pulled close, hoods up.

After a day of discussion in Paris and in London over how to secure the tunnel entrance, and fresh deployments of riot police, the determination of Calais’ migrants seems unchanged.

People like Jamal – an Ethiopian who arrived here on Wednesday morning.

He told me he’d spent most of his adult life doing military service in the Ethiopian army, had spent 10 days drifting in the Mediterranean Sea, and had crossed six different European countries to get here.

Not once had his dream of reaching England wavered. For Jamal, a barbed wire fence, or a brush with police, might change his tactics, but probably not his goal.

How each night unfolds for Calais migrants

‘Swarm of people’

The fresh attempts came despite the death of a man, believed to be a Sudanese national and aged between 25 and 30, who was crushed by a lorry on Tuesday.

Nine people have been killed attempting to cross the Channel in the past month.

Speaking in Vietnam during his tour of South East Asia, Mr Cameron said the French had sent an extra 120 police to Calais and the UK was investing in fencing and security measures.

“Everything that can be done will be done to make sure our borders are secure and make sure that British holidaymakers are able to go on their holidays,” he told the BBC.

The prime minister acknowledged the situation was “very testing” because there was a “swarm of people coming across the Mediterranean, seeking a better life”.

“But we need to protect our borders by working hand in glove with our neighbours the French and that is exactly what we are doing,” he said.

He warned that illegal immigrants would be removed from the UK “so people know it’s not a safe haven”.

The Refugee Council, which works with refugees in the UK, attacked Mr Cameron’s use of the word “swarm” as “awful, dehumanising language from a world leader”.

Migrants in Calais have told the BBC they will keep trying to get through a number of holes in security fences. They said going in groups of up to 400 gave them the best chance of getting into the tunnel.

Raihan Jan, 24, a clerk from Afghanistan, said he had travelled through Iran, Turkey, Greece and Italy before reaching Calais four days ago.

“We heard that one guy died and we know it’s very dangerous, but there is not another way to go the UK,” he said.

English literature graduate Mohammad Al-Mohammad, 26, said he had fled civil war in Syria, travelling through Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Austria and Italy before arriving in France three months ago.

“I have tried maybe nine or 10 times to get to the tunnel but I have failed,” said Mr Al-Mohammad, from Aleppo. “I am seeking peace in the United Kingdom.”

‘Sent back’

The rail shuttle has seen delays in both the UK and France in recent days, but Eurotunnel said its passenger service was currently operating to schedule.

Traffic disruption looks set to continue, with Operation Stack – where lorries park on Kent’s M20 when Channel crossings are disrupted – to run into the weekend.

Eurotunnel said it had blocked 37,000 migrants trying to make their way to Britain since the beginning of the year. Spokesman John Keefe said there was a “nightly assault” by thousands of migrants.

Conservative MP David Davies echoed calls for the Army to be sent to Calais, saying “you need to outnumber the people breaking in if you’re going to control them”.

He also urged the government to build camps in the countries migrants were coming from so they could be “sent back in a kind and humane fashion”.

UKIP leader Nigel Farage is among a growing number of politicians calling for the government to compel France to do more to resolve the situation, while Labour’s interim leader Harriet Harman called on the UK government to “get a grip”.

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