Emergency meeting set after 1,500 migrants enter Eurotunnel

UK and France to meet and discuss Calais incident which leaves one dead after 1,500 migrants attempt to enter Eurotunnel

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Migrants walk on rails to reach tunnel near Calais, France

British security forces and government officials are to hold a “Cobra” emergency meeting over the last incident in the French port Calais which left one dead as 1,500 migrants attempted to enter Eurotunnel - the undersea rail passageway between France and Britain.

Meanwhile, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve announced that they are to send 120 additional policemen to Calais to prevent migrants storming into Eurotunnel.

The channel tunnel has been operating since 1994, connecting Folkestone, Kent, in the UK, with Coquelles, near Calais. It hosts Eurostar trains for passengers as well as freight and has constantly dealt with the issue of illegal immigration since its opening.

A Eurotunnel spokesman said that "Our team found a corpse this morning and the firefighters have confirmed the death of this person."

A French police officer mentioned that the deceased, who was hit by a lorry, was a Sudanese man around 25 years old and was one of the 1,500 migrants trying to cross the Channel Tunnel.

The officer mentioned that security forces have been chasing nearly 1,000 migrants within the tunnels and said “Everything happened overnight, and at early morning, the police still had quite a lot of work to do."

Speaking about the most recent attempts to cross, Eurotunnel said in a statement that they have taken extra security measures to prevent “systematic, massive, maybe even more organised invasions.”

The statement read that “The pressure we are now under every night exceeds that which an operator can reasonably handle, and calls for an appropriate reaction from the states [France and Britain]."

Tuesday’s storming into the Eurotunnel Terminal came after another attempt including 2,000 migrants on Monday night.

British Prime Minister David Cameron also warned security forces and Eurotunnel official on this “very concerning” situation at Calais port, since the number of migrants trying to slam the entrance has been growing day by day.

British Prime Minister David Cameron told reporters during a visit to Singapore that he was "very concerned" about events in Calais.

During his southeast Asia trip, Cameron said "There's no point trying to point fingers ... of blame. It's about working with the French, putting in place these additional security measures, adding in the investment where that's needed.... We know how important this is."

Emergency ‘Cobra’ committee to be gathered

Cazeneuve and Home Secretary Theresa May is to meet for emergency “Cobra” committee in London on Wednesday in order to discuss and find solutions to the crisis in Eurotunnel.

The ministers are to discuss returning migrants around the Calais port to their home countries, and providing extra funding for strengthening safety measures.

The ministers will also talk about the traffic problems caused by the lorries which have been pulled over by police in order to prevent smuggling of migrants through trucks.

By the time ministers set an emergency meeting, the UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage criticised the government for not applying sufficient safety measures and added “If in a crisis to make sure we’ve actually got the manpower to check lorries coming in, to stop people illegally coming to Britain, if in those circumstances we can use the army or other forces then why not.”

The last death was the ninth migrant who was killed in Eurotunnel while trying to enter Britain since the beginning of June.

Although French police have increased patrols in and around Calais to prevent migrants from crossing the Channel, hundreds still take every opportunity to make the illegal crossing.

In June a video recorded by tourists travelling on a bus in Calais showed migrants trying to climb into UK-bound trucks in order to cross the channel.

The Channel Tunnel operator Eurotunnel demands a 9.7-million-euro compensation from France and Britain for the suspension of its services due to smuggling incidents.

Eurotunnel reported that 37,000 migrants have been detected while crossing the Channel since the beginning of January. The migrants tried swimming towards Dover port, or they tried to smuggle themselves into moving trucks or trains.

Calais has long attracted migrants who have escaped from wars as well as poverty and there is an estimated 3,000 refugees from Somalia, Eritrea as well as Syria living in camps near the northern French port.

Mediterranean migrant crisis grows as 1,800 rescued off Italy

The crisis triggered by migrants in the Mediterranean who have been trying to enter Europe is growing day by day. The Italian coast guard announced that around 1,800 migrants were rescued while being smuggled through vessels to Europe.

It was reported that 13 of the rescued migrants were dead by the time the security guards detected them.

Another 1,300 African and Syrian migrants were also rescued on Saturday while they were trying to enter Italy.

The International Organization for Migration said in July that the number who died on the road towards Europe reached 1,900 and the total number who attempted to cross into Italy or Greece through the Mediterranean Sea hit 150,000 since January.

TRTWorld and agencies