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Calais protest demanding demolition of Jungle camp set to grow

Published 04/09/2016

Pressure has been growing on the French authorities to tackle the Jungle camp which has grown in recent months
Pressure has been growing on the French authorities to tackle the Jungle camp which has grown in recent months

French shopkeepers, police, unionists and farmers are set to join hauliers in calling for the northern section of the camp at Calais to be demolished.

Lorry drivers planning a protest about the migrant crisis around the French port town on Monday are "in it for the long haul" and will stand their ground until they see action to dismantle the Jungle camp, a trade association has warned.

The protest is likely to disrupt British cross-Channel travellers.

Pressure has been growing on the French authorities to tackle the problem, which has seen the camp swell in size in recent months, and ta lks took place between protest organisers and French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve on Friday

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.

People traffickers are reported to be going to extreme lengths in Calais in their efforts to reach the UK, with vehicles being torched, petrol bombs thrown and trees being cut down to block roads before drivers are threatened with chainsaws and machetes.

Gangs are paid thousands of pounds by vulnerable people to get them to Calais, from where some are smuggled to Britain to work to pay off huge debts to people traffickers.

People-traffickers have even been deliberately causing car crashes on the roads to the port by hurling large objects at cars and then stowing away on lorries caught up in the traffic jams that pile up behind.

A team of Mail On Sunday journalists were injured when their car was ambushed by gangs who threw a log at their vehicle, forcing it to swerve into the path of a lorry which smashed into it.

The trio clung on as the car was dragged up the road, and were later taken to hospital for bad cuts and bruising.

A doctor at the Calais Hospital, Quentin Pette, told them: "Targeting motorists in order to cause accidents is a new tactic. A colleague treated someone recently who was injured when a migrant threw something at their vehicle near the port."

Ben Ellery, a reporter who was injured, said: "The tree trunk hurled at our car which caused the near-fatal swerve could have been thrown at any family travelling back to the UK. And the next victims may not be so lucky."

Home Secretary Amber Rudd described the incident as "extremely concerning", saying: "It is vital that people feel safe when using the Channel ports. This shows just how it is in all our interests to combat attempts to enter the UK illegally."

Dover Tory MP Charlie Elphicke said unless action is taken by the French authorities it will be only a matter of time before someone is killed, telling the newspaper: "I will be going into the Home Office this week to urge the Government to put more pressure on the French to tackle the anarchy."

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) said it was disappointed that "despite assurances that the action by Calais hauliers would take the form of a go-slow, this now appears not to be the case".

RHA chief executive Richard Burnett said the organisation has spoken to a representative of the French road transport union, the FNTR, who said that on Monday at 7.30am (local time) lorries and tractors will be gathering at Dunkirk to the north of Calais and Bolougne to the south.

"Both groups will then travel along the A16 towards Calais, converging at the Eurotunnel exit," he said.

The RHA said 200 French farmers are joining in the protest, angry at migrant action that has resulted in destroyed crops and extensive damage to farms in the area.

Mr Burnett added: "It seems certain that traffic crossing from the UK will find it almost impossible to leave the port as access to the A16 is denied.

"The inevitable repercussions of this will surely mean that the authorities on this side of the Channel will have no alternative but to deploy Operation Stack. This will bring yet further misery to hauliers bound for mainland Europe and of course for the people and businesses of Kent."

Mr Burnett said: "It appears that the proposals made by the minister were not enough to placate local Calais businesses and hauliers. We have been told that those taking part in the protest are in it for the long haul and they will stay there until they see action to dismantle the camp."

The Freight Trans port Association said it had spoken " at length once again" on Saturday morning with David Sagnard - one of the protest organisers - and said he told them he is adamant that the blockade will go ahead as planned.

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