Thursday, August 24, 2017

Road Haulage Lobby Demands Action as Violence in Calais Toward Freight Drivers Continues

Arrests and Injuries as Migrants and Police Clash But No End in Sight
Shipping News Feature
FRANCE – UK – No matter which statistics you believe as the press reports the situation it is impossible to ignore the parlous state of migrants from countries such as Eritrea and Afghanistan currently aiming to make the crossing from France to the UK in search of their vision of safety, independence and the chance of a new life, however misguided this might be. The latest wave of violence, in which both police and migrants have been injured, has led for renewed calls from the Road Haulage Association (RHA) for the French military to intervene and bring the situation under control.

There have been at least five separate clashes, some of which have resulted in the use of tear gas, and at least 27 casualties, six of them police. Groups of up to 200 migrants have been involved as the authorities policy to keep them moving throughout northern France, and avoid a repetition of the horrific scenes when the infamous ‘Jungle’ camp was demolished, evicting around 6,000 plus occupants, causes frustration.

At least 40 migrants are known to have died whilst trying to cross the Channel either by truck or train, and in June the violent attempts to stop and board freight vehicles resulted in the death of a Polish van driver. Despite several arrests on the approach roads to the port and the Eurotunnel facility it would seem that the unrest is bound to continue indefinitely unless new tactics are adopted. RHA Director of Policy, Rod McKenzie commented:

"Our members are terrified and angry. Gangs of marauding migrants, often armed with iron bars are attacking their vehicles. The police are heavily outnumbered and it’s clear that they can no longer cope with the ever increasing numbers trying to make the crossing to the UK. We hear of drivers refusing to make the journey between Dover and Calais while many hauliers are rerouting their vehicles around the Port at a cost of many thousands of pounds.”

Photo: In a scene reminiscent of events some seventy years earlier unnamed graves in a French cemetery mark the passing of dead migrants whose identity is unclear.