THERE was chaos in the French port of Calais that has seen the Chanel Tunnel closed and ferries between France and the UK cancelled. Striking French ferry workers set roadblocks on fire on Tuesday (June 23), while stranded travellers formed huge tailbacks and desperate migrants camped in the town attempted to use the confusion to climb into lorries and vans bound for the UK.
Ferries had already been cancelled by the strike, and according to Eurotunnel, protestors apparently broke into the Channel Tunnel in order to shut down France’s other link to the English south coast. The strikers work for MyFerryLink and are protesting job cuts at the company. Eurostar confirmed that trains would not run for the rest of the day.
French riot police had moved in to clear the protestors from the tunnel, and have also used tear gas on groups of people trying to board lorries headed for the UK and caught up in the mayhem.
There are believed to be around 3,000 people camped in Calais in a shanty town known as the Jungle 2, including children as young as 12 who have travelled without their parents from the war-torn Middle East and oppressive regimes in Africa.
Aid workers describe the conditions for the migrants and refugees as grim, with little access to food or shelter. Martine Devries, from Médicins du Monde, told the Guardian: “There are more people and they are becoming more desperate and are taking more risks. Last year people would only make attempts to get on to lorries at night, now there are so many and they are so desperate people are trying in broad daylight.”