Europe

Calais port delays after migrants board P&O ferry

  • 23 January 2016
  • From the section Europe
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Calais migrant demonstration Image copyright AFP/getty
Image caption The ship was targeted after a demonstration in Calais in support of migrants

The port of Calais was temporarily closed on Saturday and services were disrupted after a group of migrants briefly boarded a ship.

It is understood that about 50 migrants in Calais boarded a P&O ferry named the Spirit of Britain, while it was unloading.

The incident happened during a protest at the port, in favour of migrants.

The port has since reopened and sailing services have returned to normal.

P&O Ferries said the "security incident" had been resolved and "all services were operating to schedule" - following delays of up to 120 minutes.

'Attacks and intimidation'

Meanwhile, the head of the Road Haulage Association renewed demands for the French military to intervene.

Richard Burnett said: "This shocking breach of security clearly shows that the migrant mayhem in and around Calais is not being tackled.

"This latest episode has made the headlines, but the many incidents of attacks and intimidation faced by our British drivers on a daily basis are going unreported as, depressingly, they are now being regarded as routine."

He also warned it was "only a matter of time before our worst fears become a reality and a UK-bound truck driver is killed".

Image copyright BBC/Dan Johnson
Image caption BBC reporter Dan Johnson tweeted this picture of the ferry still in the Calais port

The demonstration was held in support of migrants and, according to AP news agency, attracted a crowd of 2,000 people.

Some of the protesters at the demonstration carried banners saying "refugees welcome here". People from Britain were among the demonstrators.

On Saturday, a statement from the Port of Dover said: "The Port of Calais is currently experiencing migrant activity which has caused disruption to ferry services.

"Therefore services to and from Calais via the Port of Dover are affected, but DFDS Seaways [ferry] services are still running to Dunkirk as normal."

DFDS Seaways also tweeted that Calais had been closed due to a "migrant invasion".

Thousands of migrants are currently living in camps known as "the Jungle" on the edge of Calais.

The population of the camp has risen steadily in recent weeks to about 2,500, including about 250 children, according to medical volunteer group, Medecins Sans Frontieres‎.

Image copyright AFP/getty
Image caption The protest attracted a crowd of about 2,000 people, according to reports

In August last year, the UK and France signed an agreement on new measures to try and alleviate the crisis, including a new command centre to help tackle trafficking gangs.

Elsewhere on Saturday, Jeremy Corbyn visited a migrant camp in northern France and spoken of the "dreadful conditions" there.

The Labour leader said conditions in the Grande-Synthe camp near Dunkirk would be a "disgrace anywhere", and Britain should be "part of bringing European support to people".

He said the long-term solution was to deal with the conflicts causing the crisis.

The situation in Calais comes amid an influx of migrants to Europe - caused largely by people fleeing war and oppression in countries such as Syria, Afghanistan and Eritrea.

On Friday French Prime Minister Manuel Valls warned that Europe's migration crisis was putting the EU at grave risk.

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