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Calais migrant crisis: UK and France urge EU action

The UK and France have urged other EU nations to help address the root causes of the Calais migrants crisis.

In the Sunday Telegraph, Home Secretary Theresa May and her French counterpart Bernard Cazeneuve said it was part of a “global migration crisis”.

Migrants in Calais are making nightly bids to cross the Channel, leading to delays on cross-Channel services.

Meanwhile, the Home Office said support could end for failed asylum-seekers, to discourage illegal migration.

Bolstered security measures planned for around the French end of the Channel Tunnel, which include more CCTV surveillance, French police reinforcements and extra fencing, were agreed between Prime Minister David Cameron and President Francois Hollande on Friday.

There have been thousands of attempts by migrants to access the Eurotunnel terminal in the last week.

A man believed to be Sudanese was killed on Tuesday night while attempting to make the journey, the ninth person to die while trying to access the tunnel since the start of June.


Calais migrant crisis

Impact on Kent council social services


the number of unaccompanied children seeking asylum that require care from Kent county council

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  • 220 the equivalent number in March 2014
  • £5.5m funding shortfall according to the council

Eurotunnel passenger services from the UK to France are currently delayed by about 30 minutes due to what Eurotunnel described as an “earlier incident” in the terminal. There is no delay to passenger services from the French side.

Freight journeys from France are delayed and will take about three and a half hours from check-in to arrival in the UK, Eurotunnel said. There are no disruptions to freight services from the UK.

‘Tougher action’

In their Telegraph piece, Mrs May and Mr Cazeneuve wrote: “This situation cannot be seen as an issue just for our two countries.

“It is a priority at both a European and international level.”

They said many migrants in Calais had travelled through Italy, Greece and other countries, which was why they were pushing for other EU countries to “address this problem at root”.

The “link between crossing the Mediterranean and achieving settlement in Europe for economic reasons” must be broken, they wrote.

They suggested that the long-term solution would be to persuade would-be migrants hoping for a better life in Europe that “our streets are not paved with gold”.

A Downing Street spokesman said the prime minister wanted to see “more security and tougher action at the border”.

Details of the security measures agreed between the two countries include:

  • Extra private security guards, funded by the UK, to boost an existing 200-strong team
  • An increased presence of French police on the borders throughout the summer
  • Additional fencing, funded by the UK, to be installed around the Eurotunnel perimeter as required, with higher boundaries and extra layers where necessary and a large metal barrier to protect Eurotunnel platforms
  • Extra CCTV, infra-red detectors and floodlighting to secure key segments of the perimeter fence

The No 10 spokesman added: “On top of that, we want to help those being affected by the disruption, including securing additional parking zones in Kent to reduce the impact on local residents and businesses.”

Operation Stack – the police scheme of closing part of the M20 in Kent to park lorries – was in place for part of Saturday but has now been lifted.

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Migrants climb through a fence in Calais
Migrants in Calais are making nightly bids to cross the Channel

Immigration minister James Brokenshire said rules could be changed to remove taxpayer support for more than 10,000 failed asylum-seekers living in the UK with their families.

In the UK, migrants can obtain accommodation and a support allowance worth £36 a week from the moment they claim asylum.

This is withdrawn from individuals whose application fails – but failed asylum-seekers with families continue to receive support.

Mr Brokenshire said: “I want to introduce new rules to support those who genuinely need it, but send out a very clear message to those who seek to exploit the system that Britain is not a soft touch on asylum.”

Shadow immigration minister David Hanson said the government needed to put diplomatic pressure on the French government to assess migrants in Calais to determine if they had proper asylum seeker or refugee status or were in the country illegally.

He said: “If those people were in Dover do you think the UK authorities would allow illegal immigrants, or people not yet claiming asylum or refugee status, to be in Dover? They wouldn’t.”

Satellite image marking the perimeter of the Eurotunnel site in Calais



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