Calais Immigration Crisis
The government has held an emergency COBRA meeting to discuss the ongoing immigration crisis in Calais. As migrants have been boarding lorries to enter the UK during the recent strikes by French ferry workers, Philippe Mignonet, the Deputy Mayor of Calais, has claimed the city has been sacrificed by Europe, and particularly by Britain. He called on David Cameron to visit the city and hold talks on how the crisis can be defused.
“Not considering our request is worse than ever because, Mr Cameron, you are making anglophobia grow in Calais and you will have more and more critics about your policy. You give now the impression of being blind and hypocritical.”
The Prime Minister had said on Wednesday that he intended to work more closely with the authorities in Calais, sending extra border guards and sniffer dogs, but this does not seem to have satisfied the city council there.
It is estimated that 350 migrants were able to illegally enter the UK by lorry during the ferry strike. Chaos and rioting ensued and the Channel Tunnel was closed, as was the M20 motorway in Kent. Thousands more are waiting for their opportunity to enter Britain when they can, many having paid thousands of pounds to people smuggers to take them from countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia to France, and then to the UK. Almost all of these migrants are young men.
The Freight Transport Association’s International Manager has said the pressure on lorry drivers is becoming intolerable.
“Drivers were unable to open their windows or leave their vehicles for fear of either being threatened or would-be stowaways getting on board. Numbers of migrants at the port have increased from a few hundred to around 3,000 and we are hearing every day from members whose trucks have been damaged, drivers have been threatened and deliveries have been compromised. This situation can’t be allowed to continue.”
David Cameron has said one of the government’s main priorities is to tackle the people smuggling gangs and to make Britain a much less attractive destination for migrants. He is at the moment trying to put forward a fairly mild reform plan to the European Union, which has so far decisively rejected almost all of his main suggestions. Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, has said that the fundamental values of the European Union are non-negotiable and are not for sale.
Meanwhile, in Calais, the French government has deployed 1,0000 police officers and 5 units of body-armoured riot police in the city itself – with 200 officers outside it, accompanied by another 35 anti-riot police officers.