Monday 5 December 2016

Migrants continue to storm Eurotunnel despite heightened security blitz

Alex Diaz

Published 30/07/2015 | 07:36

Migrants walking past a French National Gendarmerie van stationed by the perimeter security fencing of the Eurotunnel site at Coquelles in Calais, France Credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire
Migrants walking past a French National Gendarmerie van stationed by the perimeter security fencing of the Eurotunnel site at Coquelles in Calais, France Credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire

Migrants trying to reach Britain from Calais are remaining defiant as they made new attempts to storm the Channel Tunnel, just a day after one person was crushed to death under a truck.

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The man, believed to be a Sudanese national, was killed on Tuesday night as the migrant crisis in northern France worsened.

Nine people have been killed attempting to cross the Channel in the last month, according to Eurotunnel.

Some 2,000 attempts were made to get to the tunnel on Monday and 1,500 more on Tuesday night and the early hours of Wednesday morning, the operator said.

Despite the risks, hundreds of migrants - some looking as young as 13 or 14 - gathered for a third night along the fence to the freight terminal in Coquelles.

TV crews filmed as some 15 climbed through a hole in the wire and used clothes to help them jump over the first of two fences.

French National Gendarmerie on guard around the perimeter security fencing of the Eurotunnel site at Coquelles in Calais, France Credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire
French National Gendarmerie on guard around the perimeter security fencing of the Eurotunnel site at Coquelles in Calais, France Credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire

When French police arrived in riot vans some of the migrants were rounded up while three or four made a dash towards parked lorries.

Raihan Jan, 24, a clerk from eastern Afghanistan's Nangarhar province, said that he had travelled first to Iran, then on to Turkey, Greece and Italy before arriving in Calais four days ago.

He told the Press Association: "We heard that one guy died last night and we know it's very dangerous, but there is not another way to go the UK.

Read more: 'Thousands' of migrants storm Calais Eurotunnel site causing delays to trains

"This is the last chance that we have. We think that the economy is a little bit better in the UK so we will get a chance to have documents and some work.

"Life in our villages is very difficult, we can't live there. I lost an uncle and we lost all our property and home in the war, everything was destroyed.

French National Gendarmerie keep a watch on migrants around the perimeter security fencing of the Eurotunnel site at Coquelles in Calais, France Credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire
French National Gendarmerie keep a watch on migrants around the perimeter security fencing of the Eurotunnel site at Coquelles in Calais, France Credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire

"I heard that it is also difficult there in the UK but we will try. We are going to try again tonight because last night there were no trains."

Both British and French governments have pledged to increase co-operation and bolster security, with 120 additional French police officers deployed to try to stem the tide of refugees.

But the latest breaches caused lengthy delays of up to three hours for passengers travelling from Eurotunnel's UK terminal in the early hours, the operator said.

The firm added it had suspended ticket sales for those who had not made a reservation.

Eurotunnel earlier revealed that since the beginning of the year it has blocked 37,000 migrants trying to make their way to Britain and that in the last month nine people have died trying to cross the Channel.

Although no one succeeded on Tuesday, it is thought that up to 148 people made it to the UK after Monday's incursion.

There have been calls for the Army to be deployed to relieve the crisis.

But Home Secretary Theresa May refused to be drawn on calls for military involvement, saying the priority was to install security fencing.

A spokesman for Groupe Eurotunnel, which manages and operates the Channel Tunnel, said it had spent 13 million euro (£9.2 million) in the first six months of 2015, in physical resources - fences, cameras, infra-red detectors - and 200 personnel and sniffer dogs.

The crisis has caused travel chaos on both sides of the Channel, with motorists reporting long queues to get into the terminals.

Kent Police said Operation Stack - where freight traffic is parked on the M20 when cross-Channel crossings are disrupted - is expected to last into the weekend.

Read more: Holiday gridlock for Eurotunnel after 'migrant activity' in Calais

Sailings from the Port of Dover continued, with P&O Ferries running full services to Calais and DFDS operating a full schedule to Dunkirk and Calais.

Migrants sheltered under trees near the fence and started fires to keep themselves warm as the temperature dropped.

Different groups from Africa, Asia and Arab countries gathered according to their nationality.

Africans from nations such as Eritrea, Somalia, Gambia and Ghana claimed that they had arrived in France after trying to get across the Mediterranean on boats.

One man who did not want to give his name said that 13 people had died after the boat he had boarded to cross from Libya had capsized.

Several Africans claimed that they had been attacked by what they described as French "fascists" since arriving in Calais.

At around 1.30pm police mounted a sweep to push the migrants back from the road next to the fence, forcing some to return to their camp, known as the Jungle.

Others lay down by the roadside, watching as lorries went under a flyover beneath them.

Mohammad Al-Mohammad, 26, from Aleppo, Syria, said he graduated in English literature from the city's university before the civil war left it in ruins.

Read more: Suspected teen migrant found dead on roof of Eurotunnel train

Speaking good English, he said that he wanted to carry on studying for a masters degree in the UK, where he claimed his brother was living.

He said he had walked and hitchhiked from a refugee camp in Turkey, through Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Austria and Italy before arriving in France three months ago.

He said: "I have tried maybe nine or 10 times to get to the tunnel but I have failed.

"I have come here for many reasons. The Syrian regime wanted me for military service.

"I graduated from the University of Aleppo after three years and Isis wanted me to teach the kids (to be) jihadists and I refused.

"When I graduated there was no work because of the war and in the area where I live there is no electricity, no internet, there is nothing because the war has destroyed everything.

"I am seeking peace in the United Kingdom and my brother is there. I ask the United Kingdom authorities to help me to go to him."

Press Association

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