In the evening light migrants can be seen climbing fences near the Eurotunnel terminal in Calais ahead of trying to find a train, a lorry or any other way of getting themselves across to the UK.
Night after night hundreds are risking their lives – since June nine people have died, the last, a Sudanese is thought to have been hit by a truck
The scale of the crisis is putting political pressure on both the French and British governments, but there’s a human element which can’t be overlooked:
Nazirulla a 31-year-old Afghan who has been in Calais for three months calls out to political leaders:
“We just want to say that every day there’s a risk of (losing) life. People are losing their life. So please, if international community, especially these people are going to UK. Accept them or reject them (meaning UK), tell the French government to finish them all, and let them go to their own countries.”
France is sending 120 more police to the area while Britain is pressing ahead with erecting a three metre high fence to protect the terminal.
The situation has turned into a blame game with Eurotunnel asking both governments to reimburse it for the 10 million euros it has spent on increasing security.
The British government’s emergency COBRA committee duly met in London on Wednesday morning.
“We are working very hard with the French authorities and with Eurotunnel to ensure we increase security at Coquelles so we don’t see people coming through the tunnel…We all want to see the channel tunnel operating fully, the port of Calais being able to operate fully so people can go about their journeys without this kind of disruption,” said the British Home Secretary Theresa May afterwards.
Announcing a joint programme of action to tackle the problems at Calais and the wider migration crisis, both governments have pledged work via diplomacy and development in transit countries, action on human trafficking and a returns programme for illegal migrants.
Often lost amid the concerns over security are the questions concerning the desperate plight of the migrants themselves as they risk their lives trying to reach Britain, and whether they would really be better off in the UK compared to France.
Most are said to come from repressive or conflict-ridden countries with Eritrea, Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia and Sudan top of the list.