Calais migrants' tactics grow more audacious in bid to enter UK

People run from the teargas used by police to suppress protests. Photo / Facebook
People run from the teargas used by police to suppress protests. Photo / Facebook

As hundreds of migrants fought running battles with migrants trying to sneak onto UK-bound lorries, motorists described a worrying new tactic in the migrants' ceaseless bid to cross the Channel: creating their own road blocks.

Instead of waiting for opportunities to board stationary lorries, groups of men used traffic cones to create makeshift roadblocks. As drivers were forced to stop and exit their cabs to remove the obstructions, the migrants took advantage of the distraction to board the vehicles.

One pair of migrants were photographed on Monday using the tactic. The men, who appear to be of African origin, used traffic cones to force the driver of a Hungarian lorry to grind to a halt. As the driver left his cab to remove the obstruction, the pair ran towards the rear of the lorry.

Another man rushed to the opposite side of the empty cab in an attempt to get in. As more migrants approached the lorry, one man pulled himself up towards the driver's side window.

The driver is allowed back into his cab, but by that time, three migrants are clinging to the lorry's roof.

The huge French policing and traffic management operation on roads surrounding the Jungle may have inadvertently encouraged the new tactic. Vast numbers of traffic cones left on the road after being used to filter traffic and keep it away from the camp's vicinity - provide ample ammunition to create the roadblocks. Some reports also suggested that migrants had thrown branches and even mattresses on to the roads in a bid to hold up the traffic.

Debris left after an altercation between police and migrants. Photo / Facebook
Debris left after an altercation between police and migrants. Photo / Facebook

A spokesman for the Nord prefecture, which covers Calais, said up to 300 migrants were involved in the clashes, which began at 3pm on Monday. "A number of police officers were deployed who used tear gas to disperse the migrants on the road. At the same time, security around the port of Calais was reinforced."

Discussing the arrests, the spokesman said: "Two migrants were briefly detained for throwing projectiles, but then they were released without charge."

Yesterday, the roads were littered with rocks and other debris, as lorries once again began to back up towards the Jungle. Groups of migrants stood on bridges watching the passing vehicles, while others walked towards the port. In chaotic scenes, residents of the squalid Jungle camp pelted vehicles with bricks, while others made for the Eurotunnel entrance or plunged into the Channel to try to clamber on to ferries.

British drivers were forced to pass through clouds of tear gas while making their way to the French port on Monday, as migrants created makeshift roadblocks and tried to slash their way into the back of lorries. Others tried to prise open the doors of UK-bound trucks, in scenes that one shaken witness described as 'utter chaos'.

Mobs also reportedly chanted "F*** the UK" as missiles rained down on the arterial road leading to the port, which was almost entirely shut down by outnumbered squads of French riot police. Two migrants, including one from Syria, were arrested close to the Jungle refugee camp, where the violent protest began.

One English witness said the situation was "out of control", while another likened the migrants streaming down the dual carriageway to "the walking dead". Some of the vehicles caught up in the clashes were classic cars which had competed at the Le Mans 24-hour endurance race. Other motorists included England fans returning from the Euros football tournament.

Becky Weatherley, 23, said: "It was terrifying. They were like the walking dead - hundreds of people running at cars. 'We were coming back from a music festival and drove past the Jungle camp. There were hundreds of people there screaming and coming up to the gate and they must have kicked it down.

"About 400 of them ran out next to the car. They were jumping on the lorries and trying to open all the doors. That's when the police threw tear gas into the road - it was all around our car. We quickly wound up the windows so the gas didn't come in."

Miss Weatherley, from East Sussex, said migrants blocked the road with traffic cones to try to board passing vehicles. "The police had guns which fired rubber bullets and were shooting them at the migrants. They had to use the tear gas - it was the only way to control the crowds."

The episode is the worst violence since protests in March against the demolition of a large swathe of the Jungle, which has since swelled in size again. More than 6100 people are living in the makeshift shanty town, according to the latest headcount, with 30 more arriving every day. Charity workers said numbers had already exceeded last summer's peak.

Earlier this year, French officials bulldozed swathes of the southern section of the camp, relocating thousands to 'container camps' and designated centres. Other asylum-seekers moved to smaller ports such as Dunkirk to make fresh attempts to cross the channel.
But efforts to disperse the camp have failed. The population is growing faster than ever, with many becoming increasingly desperate to make the perilous crossing to the UK. Annie Gavriliescu, from charity Help Refugees, said: 'We have almost as many people as we did before the eviction and the population is growing every day.'

Fears are also growing for hundreds of unaccompanied minors, after 132 lone children arrived in just one month. More than 500 unaccompanied youngsters are now living at the camp - some aged just ten. Alex Macheras, an aviation analyst, was travelling back from the Le Mans race when he got caught in the disturbance at Calais for nearly an entire day.
He said: 'I was waiting at Calais for the Eurotunnel and then the ferry on Monday afternoon. It was utter chaos; police were outnumbered and migrants were throwing bricks at cars, including motorsport race cars such as Porsches, as most were travelling back from Le Mans.
'It was a scene of violence and was out of control enough to close both access to the port of Calais, and then the Eurotunnel - with no information being given other than tweets from operators.

'I was stuck waiting for over ten hours, to be told that there wasn't any chance of reopening either the port or the Eurotunnel as the migrant situation was out of control. Migrants were jumping into the water next to P&O ferries, and teargas was being used by the French police, who were completely outnumbered.' Simon Ward, 42, from Hampshire, was also returning from Le Mans. He said: 'I was lucky not to get hit by rocks but they did damage a few cars. They were falling short of where I was in the queue by about 6ft.

"There were two police officers alongside me firing tear gas so they may have been aiming at them as well as generally rioting. The worst of it was just going up the hill alongside the squatter camp. A lot of them had got past the first fence and were inside the second fence alongside the road shouting at the police and motorists. There were probably around 250 to 300 standing on the bank outside the shanties waiting to make their move."
'[It was] scary stuff for families with young kids, particularly when some were running between vehicles trying to get into the HGV trailers.'

- Daily Mail

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