The small French town of Ouistreham in Normandy is struggling to cope with an influx of illegal migrants looking for a new launch pad to Britain, now that security has tightened around Calais.
The town’s security chief told the Daily Mail that most of the migrants are Africans from Eritrea and Sudan, but there are others who hail from countries such as Albania, Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan — and the situation is deteriorating.
“It is getting worse,” he told the newspaper. “We need more help. We need more police officers, but this is a problem that has to be resolved at a higher level.
“There is a big number of migrants who are waiting to go to the UK. If some have success getting on the ferries then more will come here.
“We want to make sure that the town doesn’t become the new Sangatte. The town is worried. We are powerless.”
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Residents and drivers live in fear of the migrants, who loiter around the town intimidatingly, harass locals, and try to force their way onto vehicles bound for the United Kingdom.
“Every day they are sitting against the wall of my house. We don’t feel safe,” said Alain Hurel, a 46-year-old waiter who lives in Ouistreham with partner Noemi Fernandez.
“One day they tried to take my partner’s phone off her. There are not enough police. We are on the frontline and no one is helping.”
Correspondents for the Mail say they witnessed groups of migrants take up positions around the town each day, three hours before the regular ferry is set to depart.
“Some create a diversion to distract police while others target lorries at traffic lights on a residential road … [we] watched as dozens sprung from hiding places and forced open lorries. Those left outside bolted the doors as the lights turned green,” they reported.
“Lorry drivers aware of the problem refuse to stop at red lights, creating an obvious risk.”
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Deputy Mayor Luc Jammet said Ouistreham’s small-town infrastructure and police force are simply not equipped to deal with “well-coordinated groups of young men determined to get to Britain”, and pleaded for outside assistance.
The town is so ill-equipped to deal with the scale of the crisis that police have been told to simply issue any illegal migrants they catch boarding lorries with a warning and let them go, meaning they can try again and again.
One migrant the Mail spoke to boasted that he had been stopped no less than forty-five times in the two months he has been camped in the town.
“It’s a game,” he said with a grin. “One day they won’t catch me and I will make it to England. I am sure of it.”