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More police for Channel Tunnel as UK and France pledge to tackle migrant crisis

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By Alasdair Sandford
More police for Channel Tunnel as UK and France pledge to tackle migrant crisis

France is sending 120 extra police officers to Calais where the crisis surrounding the ever-increasing number of migrants trying to reach the UK has been worsening.

They will be deployed to safeguard the Eurotunnel terminal.

“The Eurotunnel group also has to assume its responsibilities, of course, notably regarding the security inside its own entity. I am saying this in a spirit of responsibility, not in a spirit of controversy, because the issue is too serious not to do it this way,” said French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve.

A man from Sudan was killed by a lorry on Tuesday night after an estimated 1,500 migrants had tried to get into the tunnel.

On Wednesday afternoon police in Paris said a man was electrocuted trying to get jump on board a Eurostar train bound for London. Reports said he was believed to be an Egyptian. A police spokesperson said the man was in a “very serious condition”.

In southern England motorway police say emergency measures for lorries to cope with severe delays will continue.

The crisis is affecting trade involving several European countries. Britain’s Road Haulage Association reiterated a call for the French military to be deployed at Calais.

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.

The UK has pledged £7 million (9.9 million euros) – for almost two kilometres of fence around the Eurotunnel site at Coquelles. The funding is on top of £12 million (17 million euros) announced last September.

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.

The group Calais Migrant Solidarity, which estimates that at least 30 migrants have died trying to cross the Channel since the beginning of 2014, claims those who try to reach the UK have often suffered from police violence.

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.

The security problems appeared to have eased later on Wednesday, with some travellers from France to England reporting no problems.