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29/09/2016

Man dies as thousands of migrants storm Channel Tunnel

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Man dies as thousands of migrants storm Channel Tunnel

The Eurotunnel at Calais

[Adam Foster/Flickr]

More than 2,000 migrants tried to enter the Channel Tunnel in an attempt to reach Britain from France, French authorities said on Tuesday (28 July) before a Sudanese man was killed overnight in a second storming of the Tunnel.

Six migrants were injured in what was the biggest incursion effort in the last few weeks at the tunnel entrance near Calais, on the night between Monday and Tuesday, a local official said.

“Some 2,100 of them entered the site overnight, 1,900 of them were quickly pushed back outside and 200 were arrested,” the official told Reuters. Tunnel operator Eurotunnel confirmed the intrusion on Twitter, saying it had caused traffic delays.

It was reported this morning that a Sudanese man between the ages of 25 and 30 was hit and killed by a lorry after 1,500 migrants stormed the Tunnel last night.

Such disruption has become common as some 5,000 migrants, mostly from Africa and the Middle East, have set up camp around the northern French port and regularly try to board trucks travelling by the rail tunnel or by ferry to Britain.

The British government said on Thursday it had called a meeting of its emergency response committee Cobra to discuss the migrant crisis in the French port of Calais and draw up contingency plans if further strike action exacerbates the situation.

Television footage earlier this week showed crowds of migrants trying to stow away on queuing lorries after disruption by striking French ferry workers halted traffic through the Channel Tunnel linking Britain and France.

“The transport secretary will chair a meeting of Cobra this afternoon to ensure we are working with the French and have the right plans in place if there are further wild cat strikes in Calais,” a spokeswoman for Prime Minister David Cameron said on Thursday.

Cameron on Wednesday said the British government was looking at reinforcing its border controls with France at Calais after what he said were “unacceptable” scenes.

UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage has called for the army to be deployed to protect British lorry drivers.

Italy has been trying to convince the EU to help it cope with waves of migrants arriving in overcrowded boats from North Africa, with official estimates putting the total at 60,000 so far this year. Almost 2,000 have died trying to make the crossing, the United Nations refugee agency has estimated.

>>Read: Ships rescue 3,700 migrants in just two days

Background

On 27 May, the Commission proposed the relocation of 40,000 refugees from Italy and Greece to other EU countries, as well as the resettlement of 20,000 from outside the EU, across member states. The Commission's scheme needs to be adopted by the Council of the European Union, voting by qualified majority.

It was clear from the outset that the proposal stood no chance of being accepted by most member states, given the reactions of EU leaders at the extraordinary summit on migration on 23 April.