Migrants camping in the French port of Calais try to board lorries to make the journey across the English Channel to Britain.
COQUELLES, FRANCE (JULY 2, 2015) (REUTERS) – France and Britain agreed on Thursday (July 2) to step up efforts to discourage migrants from Africa and the Middle East trying to stow away on vehicles crossing the Channel between the two countries.
The move was agreed after many of the some 3,000 migrants camping around the northern French port of Calais this week sought to take advantage of traffic jams caused by a French ferry workers strike to steal into stationary trucks.
On Thursday, some migrants were seen trying to board a lorry headed to the other side of the Channel. They were subsequently forced to get off when police intervened.
A doctor working with humanitarian organisation Medecins du Monde (Doctors of the World) said the migrants were relentless in their pursuit.
“Each day they are several who come either because they have jumped from a truck and broken or twisted something, or because they’ve tried to cross a barrier and they have been caught. So there are a lot of injuries related to the attempts to reach England,” said Anne Kamel.
“So (we say) ‘come back tomorrow if you don’t feel better’, (they say) ‘no tomorrow we will be in England’ but we see them again the next day,” she said.
Calais is one of the front lines in a wider immigration crisis in which European countries are struggling to agree among themselves how to deal with growing numbers of migrants fleeing conflict or poverty.
Deputy mayor of Calais, Emmanuel Agius, criticised British Prime Minister David Cameron over his stance on the issue.
“The English made their choice of deciding to close the debate definitively. Mr Cameron made the decision by himself, alone in his office which leads us to believe that he is taking a firmer stance about immigration to British soil, that’s his choice but he did it without any consultation with other European countries,” he said.
British Home Secretary Theresa May and French counterpart Bernard Cazeneuve held talks in Paris on Thursday.
The two countries would boost cooperation and top up an intervention fund which would allow new measures aimed at preventing migrants from gaining access to Calais port premises from the beach and to improve security at the Channel Tunnel, they said.