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Fears of Calais migrant truck disruptions return

02/03/2017

Drivers report several recent incidents of would-be stowaways trying to gain entry to trailers near French Channel port, but port downplays threat

Migrant activity in and around Calais could be on the rise again on the evidence of local media reports, although the Port of Calais said there had been no incidents of migrant-related disruptions on the approach roads or the port area itself.

According to the Nord Littoral newspaper, eyewitnesses report that migrants have begun congregating over the past week at a fuel station on an industrial park near the port with the apparent aim of boarding trucks bound for the UK. Groups of up to 15 migrants have been seen hiding close to the service station, a popular refuelling point for HGVs heading to the port.

This had led to several incidents with drivers who have caught migrants in the act of trying to gain entry to trailers. Nord Littoral added that in an incident last week near the filling station, riot police patrol came under attack from projectiles thrown by a group of about 30 migrants.

A spokesperson for the Port of Calais played down any suggestion of a recrudescence in migrant action. “The ring road leading to the port, the main ‘blackspot’ previously, has been completely incident-free since 'The 'Jungle' was closed,” the spokesperson said. “Nor have we noted any attempted intrusions onto port property.

“The ring road and the port are perfectly secure. While migrants continue be discovered during inspections of trucks, the figures in no way compare with those before the camp was dismantled.”

Following the closure of the squalid ‘Jungle’ camp at the end of October 2016, the Port of Calais noted an almost immediate recovery in its truck numbers.

Earlier this year, the state prefect's office in Calais revealed that there were still around 400 migrants discovered on average each week aboard trucks or in and around Calais port and the Eurotunnel terminal.

Reflecting a lasting improvement in the situation, earlier this month saw the resumption of Geodis Logistics’ VIIA Britanica rail service for unaccompanied road trailers between the French Pyrenees and Calais, which offers on-forwarding to the UK. The company suspended the service in July 2016 due to repeated incursions by migrants onto the tracks.

Local media reports in the last few weeks indicate that 400-500 migrants have now returned to the Calais area, with around 15 more arriving each day. That compares with several thousands in the months leading up to the closure of the ‘Jungle’ migrant camp last October.

Anecdotal reports indicate some migrants have also moved in recent weeks to areas surrounding other French Channel ports, such as Dunkirk and Cherbourg, in the hope of boarding vehicles there that are bound for the UK.

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