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Plight of migrants 'scandalous'

Charities working with migrants in Calais are being overwhelmed by rising numbers using the town as a base to cross the channel, it has been claimed.

A French volunteer spoke as dozens of migrants marched through the streets of the French town in a noisy protest demanding human rights protection.

There is rising anger at the rising number of migrants flocking to Calais which has long been used as a staging post to try to reach the shores of Britain.

But recent months have seen a big increase in their numbers and clashes have erupted between rival African migrants.

The disorder and large influx, mainly from African countries including Sudan and Eritrea, have led the mayor and deputy mayor of Calais to make direct appeals for UK help.

Pascal Froehly, a volunteer at a migrants' charity clothes shop in Calais: "There was a time, two to three years ago when we served 100 people. Now we just cannot face it any longer. My assessment is that there are around 800.

"The only people who try to help them are volunteers and they are tired. They are tired elderly, unfit and they just cannot face it any longer.

"I have seen men women and children sleeping in the snow. I have seen people running on lorries. It's scandalous."

The issue was further highlighted this week after dozens of migrants tried to storm a ferry bound for Britain. Riot police were deployed after up to 100 people breached security and tried to run up the ramp of the cross-Channel ferry.

The migrants were foiled from getting on board the MyFerryLink-operated Berlioz vessel when the crew raised the ramp and turned a fire hose on them.

T oday Kent Police Roads Policing Unit said three men were arrested on suspicion of illegal entry to UK.

The unit tweeted the first man was found on the M20 motorway hanging onto the underneath of a mobile home, before being handed over to the Home Office.

Two further males were later detained on suspicion of the same offence after hanging from the underside of another mobile home, the unit said.

Mr Froehly said: "This is Europe. You call yourself civilised and you allow women and children to walk around unprotected on the street. It's that bad."

He appealed to Prime Minister David Cameron to offer help, adding: "We are giving in to the pressure and we cannot face it any longer. So please, if you have a heart, you English people, and I know you have a heart, there are many things you can do, organise a humanitarian camp the way it's done in others parts of the world because the situation demands such measures."

The protest in the town saw migrants waving banners, one saying "where are our human rights?" another "we are against eviction".

Locals in Calais stood in shop doorways and peered out of windows as the march wound its way through the town centre.

The migrants alleged police brutality against them, with some claiming to have suffered broken hands and legs.

In a statement handed out to journalists signed "the migrant communities in Calais", they said: "Migration is not a crime and each and every one of us has reasons why we had to leave our countries and our families and why we are here now.

"Europe is always talking about human rights and freedom but we cannot find this here.

"This is why we want to demonstrate and bring our demands on the streets."

One migrant, 21-year-old Ethiopian Obsidan Umer, who has been in Calais for two months, said: "I'm sleeping rough in a forest at the moment and I only have one meal a day.

"I'm always very hungry. I'm not happy here. Me and my people need food and we need shelter. It's not good for us here.

"The people of Calais do not like black people. I had to come here. In Ethiopia, people were being killed, including my own brother.

"I'm desperate."

Another migrant, Zerat Ters, 35, from Eritrea, who arrived in Calais two weeks ago, appealed to the UK to take people like him in need.

He said: "I want to go to the UK because I speak English and I think I could have a better life for myself there.

"It's very bad here. There must be more than 1,000 migrants here and there are problems. But if you go without food and shelter people will go bananas.

"It's not because they are animals. They are tired, hungry and they want somewhere to live. It's obvious you are going to get some angry people.

"There are not large numbers going to the UK. Some choose to go to other countries, including Germany and Sweden.

"Not everyone is trying to get to the UK. I think the numbers of migrants looking to go to the UK is very small."


From Belfast Telegraph