The British government has issued advice to travellers to avoid the major port city of Calais and the main routes between the United Kingdom and Europe as migrants continue to disrupt services, violence intensifies, and delays grow.
In an extraordinary indictment of the deteriorating security situation in Calais, official UK Foreign Office advice suggests travellers make alternate plans when travelling to and from Britain, switching from the fast Eurotunnel shuttle and Calais ferry services to longer distance ferries, which can take over seven hours.
The French port is now so routinely delayed police in the south-east of England have had to put Operation Stack, the emergency response to channel congestion, into practice over twenty times in just three months, reports the Daily Mail.
Transforming the main arterial road leading to the port of Dover into a massive stationary lorry park, Operation Stack causes considerable hardship to those living in proximity to the affected roads, as they are effectively put under siege.
A combination of industrial unrest as hauliers and farmers blockade major French roads – and the Pas-De-Calais – has only worked to the advantage of the estimated 6,000 illegal migrants encamped in the town. As heavy, if not stationary traffic has flowed into the port ready to travel to the United Kingdom, migrant smuggling gangs have leapt on the opportunity to climb aboard lorries and stow away in containers with less risk to life and limb.
Not that this entirely removes risk – even while moving slowly, freight trains are lethal. As hundreds of illegals lay siege to the Calais Euro Tunnel secure zone every night – seen here as recently as the early hours of this morning – it is near inevitable some will get through to the trains – where yet more will inevitably be killed. Two died on one night alone last week, with one of the bodies not found on the roof of a train until it had already travelled all the way to England through the tunnel.
Until they resumed services this morning, ferry operator DFDS’s customers had little choice but to divert, as the government recommends. The operator had suspended all services to the port twice in the past week and diverted its ships to other towns after one of its ferries was fired upon in a dispute at the weekend.
The DFDS ship was fired upon a number of times by assailants armed with flare-firing Very pistols and hit once – a grave breach of security. Although it is not presently known who was attacking the ship, it is possible the action was taken by militant elements within rival company MyFerryLink, and police are now investigating.
Services resumed this morning after emergency talks with the port authority and the other companies yesterday. French secretary of state for transport Alain Vidalies called the meeting to outline a ‘secret peace plan’ for the port.
Having brought the warring operators to the bargaining table, all that remains to be seen now is the Calais illegal migrant problem.
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