English Channel transportation services halt amid worker strike, immigrant crisis

Several of the estimated 3,000 immigrants living in harsh conditions in Calais, France, took advantage of chaos on Tuesday and tried boarding the backs of slow-moving semi-trucks bound for the United Kingdom.

By Fred Lambert

CALAIS, France, June 23 (UPI) -- Transport services to the United Kingdom from Calais, France, halted Tuesday as striking ferry workers blocked a port and tunnel, according to reports.

Workers from MyFerryLink, a ferry company that transports passengers and freight across the English Channel, blockaded the port of Calais in a job cuts protest, shutting down ferry services.


Drivers were forced to use the Eurotunnel Shuttle, a rail system that transports vehicles in carriages through the Channel Tunnel, but it too was forced to halt services after protesters gained access to the tracks and started burning tires, the BBC quoted representatives with the company as saying.

Traffic delays built up on the roads into Calais, and several of the region's indigent immigrants were reportedly trying to board the backs of slow-moving semi-trucks headed for the United Kingdom.

Truck drivers were warned not to stop within 60 miles of Calais and to keep their doors padlocked.

About 3,000 immigrants are estimated to be camping near the port of Calais, living in poor conditions and seeking entrance into Britain.

The BBC quoted Eurotunnel as saying the number of immigrants in the area was the "highest ever."


According to a report by Britain's National Crime Agency, "Detections of irregular migrants attempting to enter the UK clandestinely more than doubled in 2014. This is likely to continue on an upward trend."

The UK Home Office estimates that authorities thwarted about 19,000 attempts by immigrants to illegally cross the English Channel in 2015, more than double the number during the same period last year.

Calais' Deputy Mayor Philippe Mignonet suggested the border frontier between France and Britain be moved to south England.

"Calais is not the destination," Brietbart quoted Mignonet as saying. "As you've heard, [immigrants] want to get into trucks, they want to get to England. England has got to realize that it is not our responsibility. The English border is in Calais and I'm requesting, such as [Calais Mayor] Natacha Bouchart, for the border to be transferred back in Dover and in Folkestone. We can't just accept any more, to be blamed for immigrancy. Again, they want to go to England, they are not coming to Calais, they go through Calais to get to England."

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