Thursday 22 February 2018

Migrants storm UK-bound trucks caught in Calais strike

Jamie Merrill London

Europe's migration crisis played out dramatically on the motorways of northern France yesterday, as hundreds of desperate migrants attempted to board UK-bound lorries while taking advantage of a wildcat strike by Calais port workers.

The UK's main transport links to the Continent were left at a standstill throughout the day, after striking MyFerryLink workers blocked the Port of Calais and "broke into" the Channel Tunnel where they started a fire, prompting the cancellation of all passenger and freight services.

Thousands of British tourists were left stranded with Eurostar passenger services remaining suspended last night, while truckers and drivers using the Eurotunnel vehicle shuttle service were facing hours of delays after trains finally began running again at 6.30pm.

The British Foreign Office was forced to issue an unprecedented warning to drivers in northern France, as hundreds of migrants used the disruption at the French port to attempt to break into the back of gridlocked heavy goods vehicles headed for Britain.

"There are large numbers of illegal migrants in and around Calais, who may seek to enter the UK illegally," said an official statement.

"Although local police patrols have been reinforced, you should keep vehicle doors locked in slow-moving traffic and secure your vehicle when it is left unattended."

Aerial footage showed dozens of migrants trying to board lorries on the A16 motorway, after protesting French ferry workers set fire to tyres and hay bales on the road in the early hours of the morning.

The number of migrants gathered around Calais is thought to have swollen to 3,000 since April, in what aid workers have a called a "catastrophic" situation.

Up to 2,000 more from war-torn countries including Eritrea, Syria and Afghanistan are expected to arrive over the summer.

Outnumbered French riot police drew their batons and threatened migrants with CS spray. They struggled to contain the numbers of people jumping on lorries, which sat stationary in 10-mile long tailbacks stretching out of Calais. (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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