Thursday 8 December 2016

Jungle migrant camp protest causes Calais travel chaos

Rachael Burnett

Published 05/09/2016 | 09:07

Truckers block a major highway near Calais, northern France (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Truckers block a major highway near Calais, northern France (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Tractors blockade a road near Calais, France, as part of a campaign for the Jungle migrant camp to be demolished Credit: Chris Radburn/PA Wire
French police near a blockade in Calais, France, as part of a campaign for the Jungle migrant camp to be demolished Credit: Chris Radburn/PA Wire
Tractors blockade a road near Calais, France, as part of a campaign for the Jungle migrant camp to be demolished Credit: Chris Radburn/PA Wire
Car slowly drive as truckers, dock workers, farmers and merchants are blocking a major highway near Calais, northern France (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Truckers slow down the traffic on a major highway near Calais, northern France (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

A blockade of lorries is causing chaos on the roads around Calais in a campaign for the Jungle migrant camp to be demolished.

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British cross-Channel travellers faced disruption as French shopkeepers, police, unionists and farmers joined hauliers in blocking the motorway around the port.

A convoy of trucks and tractors set off from Dunkirk to the north, while another made its way from Boulogne to the south at 7.30am local time on the A16, which runs along the edge of the town.

They are set to converge near the entrance to the Channel Tunnel and ferry terminals.

A human chain has also formed across the road leading to the ferry port, near the football stadium, Stade de l'Epopee.

Protesters are marching along the motorway holding banners and waving placards.

Despite efforts to reduce numbers by dismantling the slum's southern section earlier this year, up to 9,000 migrants from countries including Sudan, Syria and Eritrea are living there in squalor.

People traffickers are reported to be going to extreme lengths in Calais in their efforts to reach the UK, with vehicles being torched, petrol bombs thrown and trees being cut down to block roads before drivers are threatened with chainsaws and machetes.

Tractors blockade a road near Calais, France, as part of a campaign for the Jungle migrant camp to be demolished Credit: Chris Radburn/PA Wire
Tractors blockade a road near Calais, France, as part of a campaign for the Jungle migrant camp to be demolished Credit: Chris Radburn/PA Wire
Car slowly drive as truckers, dock workers, farmers and merchants are blocking a major highway near Calais, northern France (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Truckers slow down the traffic on a major highway near Calais, northern France (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Gangs are paid thousands of pounds by vulnerable people to get them to Calais, from where some are smuggled to Britain to work to pay off huge debts to people traffickers.

Migrants have even been deliberately causing car crashes on the roads to the port by hurling large objects at cars and then stowing away on lorries caught up in the traffic jams that pile up behind.

Presidential hopeful Nicholas Sarkozy called for a renegotiation of Le Touquet agreement, a collaboration between Britain and France on border controls, which was signed in 2003.

In an interview with French publication La Voix du Nord, he said most people who go to Calais want to travel to Britain and UK asylum claims should be dealt with by the British Government.

He added that France should stop being "as lenient to those who do not respect the criteria of asylum".

A group of farmers in tractors waiting to take part in the blockade on the A16 said they "want the town back"

"The camp needs to go," one added.

They said conditions are getting worse and they are seeing more violence.

Two slow-moving convoys of lorries and other vehicles were making their way towards the town from both sides.

No traffic was being allowed to pass the blockade and police were stationed at the junctions, apparently to stop vehicles joining the motorway.

Hundreds of protesters marched on foot along the road leading directly to the port.

They carried a banner which said in French: "My port is beautiful, my town is beautiful."

EuroTunnel has advised travellers from Calais to find an alternative route.

A member of Co-ordination Rurale, which has a convoy of 23 tractors taking part in the action, said French farmers are being badly affected by the migrant camp.

He said fields surrounding the area are full of rubbish and human excrement.

"We are in the blockade with the lorry drivers, it is us who are suffering as well," he added.

"The camp must go. They cannot get to England so why are they allowed to stay here?"

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