Britain is to put more resources into cross-Channel security – including possibly in France – after a day of chaos when migrants took advantage of a French ferry workers’ strike to try to board UK-bound lorries.
Security is being beefed up in Dover and Calais, where in both ports services have been getting back to normal after the Channel Tunnel re-opened.
Many British MPs from different parties blame the French authorities for failing to deal with illegal migrants making their way north towards the English Channel coast, accusing them of turning a blind eye with people intent on trying to reach England.
However the British government is stressing cooperation, as the prime minister stressed in parliament.
“We’ve been looking at whether can put more personnel and indeed sniffer dog teams on that side of the Channel to make a difference and there is also more work being done in terms of installing fencing,” David Cameron told the House of Commons.
“We should work with the French very closely, there is no point either side trying to point the finger of blame at each other. This is a strong partnership that we have in place and we should keep it that way,” he added.
Wholly unacceptable for British lorry drivers & migrants alike, France needs to take action by making clear timely decisions on their status— Sarah Wollaston MP (@sarahwollaston) June 24, 2015
Amid a backlog of lorries on the French side, migrants have continued their desperate quest to reach England.
Several hundred were found in cars and lorries on Wednesday.
Many are from Africa and are thought to have paid people smugglers to cross the Mediterranean.
Cameron has also pledged to work with Europe to tackle the trafficking gangs in north Africa, as well as do more to convince migrants that Britain is “no El Dorado”, as one official put it.
In September 2014 Britain pledged £12 million (15 million euros) in security measures to help France tackle the problem of illegal migrants trying to reach the UK, in a joint announcement by both British and French governments.
There are rising concerns over security amid heightened tension between lorry drivers, migrants and police. There have been reports of migrants carrying knives, while there have been calls for protection for truckers who face severe punishment if caught carrying illegal immigrants.
The chaos at Calais has affected traffic and businesses from several European countries which use the Channel Tunnel for trade.
The tunnel was closed on Tuesday after striking ferry workers from MyFerryLink gained access to the terminal. Eurostar services were suspended after strikers damaged the railway track.
At least 3,000 migrants live rough near Calais often in conditions described as deplorable.
Earlier this year some migrants in Calais told euronews why they had left their home countries.
An increasing number of people trying to smuggle migrants into the UK via Calais are Britons, according to a BBC investigation.
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