One dead and 37,000 turned back as migrants swamp Channel Tunnel

Theresa May
Theresa May
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A MIGRANT has been killed in the latest incursion on the Channel Tunnel, as operator Eurotunnel reveals it has blocked more than 37,000 people attempting to cross into the UK this year.

The death comes as some 1,500 people were successful in breaching the fences at Calais last night, and 2,000 stormed the French terminal the night before.

Eurotunnel revealed the scale of the problem as it came under increased pressure to do more to deal with the crisis.

A spokesman for Groupe Eurotunnel, which manages and operates the Channel Tunnel, said that since the arrival of migrants in the area around Calais, it has invested more than 160 million euro (£113 million), including 13 million euro (£9.2 million) in the first six months of 2015, in physical resources - fences, cameras, infra-red detectors - and personnel.

He added: “These considerable investments have already been followed in the second half of the year with new fencing around the platforms. Security patrol staff has been doubled to reach 200 employees, including sniffer dog patrols.

“To support the efforts of law enforcement in the Calais area, Eurotunnel has also provided buses to the authorities to enable them to remove any migrants intercepted.”

The spokesman also said that Eurotunnel has kept the Intergovernmental Commission for the Channel Tunnel and authorities informed, over several months, about the “explosion” in the number of migrants present in Calais.

“Since 1 January 2015, Eurotunnel has, using its own resources, discretely intercepted more than 37,000 migrants, who have been handed over to the law enforcement authorities, and has registered thousands of complaints, all of which have been filed with no further action by the procureur (legal official) of the court in Boulogne.

“The continuous pressure exerted every night is above and beyond that which a concessionaire can reasonably handle and requires a constructive and appropriate response from the governments.

“In this context, Eurotunnel and its employees, who hold to their task despite the psychological pressure that weighs on them, continue to guarantee a rapid and safe Channel crossing for its millions of customers.”

The Road Haulage Association has called on France to deploy its military to secure the port of Calais, saying that the police can no longer cope.

While businesses of all sizes in Kent have united to call for the issue to be dealt with quickly, as they struggle to receive supplies and welcome visitors

Some firms in the area are also reporting huge falls in customers as Operation Stack causes queues of traffic to form outside their businesses.

Kent County Council estimates the impact on the county’s economy is around £1.5 million a day, and that there needs to be intervention from government and Highways England.

The latest death comes as Home Secretary Theresa May chaired a meeting of the Government’s Cobra emergency committee about the crisis.

The Government has agreed an extra £7 million of funding for measures to improve security at Calais and the entrance to the Channel Tunnel.

Conservative MP for Folkestone, Damian Collins, said: “This investment is very welcome, it doesn’t address the whole problem. It’s partly an issue of enforcement from French authorities.

“They have allowed people willingly to break into the Channel Tunnel site. I can’t believe they would be that lax in protecting an airport or another sensitive facility.

“But that has happened constantly throughout the summer. They have to enforce their own restrictions.”

He added that while the UK had a role to play, it is fundamentally French territory and that the French government needs to put more of its resources into the tunnel and the port.

According to French media, the migrant is the ninth to be killed at the tunnel since the start of June, and is believed to be a Sudanese national aged in his late 20s.

It is thought that he was hit by a lorry as he tried to climb over a shuttle.

Xavier Bertrand, former minister for labour, employment and health and candidate for Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie in regional elections this year, said: “In Calais, it’s a human drama which is taking place every day.

“Only a naval blockade at the Libyan coast could provide a solution.

“The UK has responsibility in this matter too, England allows these migrants to work without papers. The English border must be at Dover and not Calais.”

A Eurotunnel spokesman was quoted by France 24 as saying all the company’s security staff - about 200 people - were used to prevent the intrusions into the site which largely took place between midnight and 6am.

Natacha Bouchart, mayor of Calais, has called for a summit involving ministers from France and Britain, Eurotunnel, the ports, and the municipality of Calais.

Ms Bouchart previously said Britain was “attracting” migrants as it had a “much more favourable” benefits system.

“You have a much more favourable regime in Britain than in other European countries,” the mayor said.

The migrant crisis has escalated in recent months, with thousands displaced from countries including Eritrea, Syria and Afghanistan setting up camp near the port.