Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron said on Monday that migrants in the French port city Calais have been “threatening” truck drivers and border officials to cross the Channel Tunnel to reach Britain as French police suggested bringing in the British army to curb the crisis.
Cameron’s remarks came after Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond’s depiction of Calais migrants as “marauders.”
Cameron’s spokesman said on Monday that "it is a fact that there have been tens, if not more of migrants, around the tunnel entrance at Coquelle every night seeking to threaten people there and to break through our fences and to enter the UK illegally.”
Refusing to criticize Hammond’s remarks, the spokesman said that "the point that the Foreign Secretary was making, which the Prime Minister shares, is the scale of this problem.There is a challenge of hundreds of thousands of migrants seeking to come to the EU and the PM has spoken before about the pressure that puts on communities in terms of public services."
Recently, Hammond criticized migrants coming to Britain by saying “so long as there are large numbers of pretty desperate migrants marauding around the area, there will always be a threat to the tunnel’s security.”
Following the comments made by Hammond and the President’s office, the Labour Party criticized them for the usage of “de-humanising” and “macho” language. The Shadow Home Secretary and Labour Leadership candidate Yvette Cooper has been one of the critics slamming both Hammond and Cameron’s remarks.
Cooper slammed the government saying “the government’s impractical and frankly shameful response to Calais is unacceptable.”
Cooper suggested seeking the UN's intervention for the Calais migrant crisis and said that “I am calling on the prime minister to agree with [French] President Hollande for the UN Refugee Agency [UNHCR] to be brought in to register those people camping out at Calais, and go through a proper process of managing asylum applicants.”
Meanwhile, Hammond clarified his anti-immigrant stance by saying “we have a significant number of people around the Calais areas moving in numbers. And because they are moving en masse in numbers they can pose a threat to the security of the Channel Tunnel, which was the context in which the question was asked.”
Currently, Cameron and his government decided to build more fences on the Calais entrance of the Eurotunnel, increasing the border force and deploying sniffer dog teams to prevent migrants approaching the Eurotunnel railhead at Coquelles as well as to ferry port in Calais.
Calling for British Army
While British politicians argue against each other over the Calais migrant crisis, French police demand military support from Britain.
The head of France's Alliance police union, Bruno Noel mentioned the lack of security officers available to tackle all the migrants in Calais and said that “we have only 15 permanent French border police at the Eurotunnel site. Can you imagine how derisory this is given the situation? So I say, why not bring in the British army, and let them work together with the French?”
The request for the British army came right after Sudanese migrant Abdul Rahman Haroun’s nearly successful attempt to cross the Channel Tunnel to reach Calais to Britain’s Folkstone, despite security cameras.
The Channel Tunnel operator Eurotunnel reported that 37,000 migrants have been detected while attempting to cross the Channel since the beginning of January.
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 freights.
The UK has agreed to aid France with 11 million dollars to improve fencing around the Eurotunnel, the Agence-France Press (AFP) reported.
Calais has long attracted migrants escaping from war as well as poverty and there is over an estimated 3,000 refugees from Somalia, Eritrea as well as Syria living in camps near the northern French port.
Migrants have previously and are still attempting to swim towards the Dover port and smuggle themselves into moving trucks or trains, which has caused the death of nine migrants in their way to Britain so far.
In June a video recorded by tourists travelling on a bus in Calais showed migrants trying to climb into UK-bound trucks to cross the channel.