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Calais motorway blockade over Jungle migrant camp ends

Published 05/09/2016

Despite efforts to reduce numbers by dismantling the Jungle's southern section earlier this year, up to 9,000 migrants are living there
Despite efforts to reduce numbers by dismantling the Jungle's southern section earlier this year, up to 9,000 migrants are living there

A blockade of the main motorway into Calais by lorries, police, union members, shopkeepers and farmers demanding the Jungle migrant camp be demolished has come to an end.

Eurotunnel said the protest on the A16 had dispersed and traffic would be back to normal on Tuesday.

A Eurotunnel spokesman told the Press Association: "Eurotunnel services have been operating normally all day. Some freight traffic was held back but, due to a lot of discussion and forward planning before the protest, most had been diverted and came at the weekend or last week."

Eurotunnel informed customers that its passenger service was running to schedule and they could use the A16 to reach the terminal.

Trucks, vans and tractors had made their way to the junction at the entrance to the Eurotunnel on Monday morning.

They said they would refuse to budge until the French government takes action over the migrant crisis, but i t is understood they agreed to end the protest following concessions from the government, according to the Eurotunnel spokesman.

The blockades were being lifted after the region's leading state official said the huge makeshift camp would be dismantled and funds made available for struggling businesses, Associated Press reported.

Representatives of farmers, truckers and merchants came away from a meeting with the state representative of the region, Fabienne Buccio, with a new commitment - but no date - that the camp would be completely dismantled "in a single step".

Mr Buccio also said a special fund to help businesses in need would be activated and more than 230 extra security staff brought in, bringing the total to over 2,000.

However the hauliers threatened to stage fresh protests and keep blocking the A16 if the migrant camp is not dismantled.

Ahead of the protest, police were forced to set up roadblocks to prevent vehicles from entering the motorway.

British holidaymakers were left to find back road routes to the shuttle and ferry terminals.

Antoine Ravisse, president of the Grand Rassemblement du Calaisis, a coalition of businesses, said the campaigners want assurances from the French government that the roads in Calais will be made safe again.

"It's unacceptable that today in France you can't travel without fear and without the certainty that you won't be attacked," he said.

A member of Co-ordination Rurale, which had a convoy of 23 tractors taking part in the action, said French farmers are being badly affected by the migrant camp.

He said fields surrounding the area are full of rubbish and human excrement, fences have been torn down and crops trampled.

"We are in the blockade with the lorry drivers, it is us who are suffering as well," he added.

"The camp must go. They cannot get to England so why are they allowed to stay here?"

Despite efforts to reduce numbers by dismantling the slum's southern section earlier this year, up to 9,000 migrants from countries including Sudan, Syria and Eritrea are living there in squalor.

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From Belfast Telegraph