The French army should be deployed at the port of Calais to protect truck drivers from the growing threat of desperate migrants attempting to get to the UK, says the head of a truckers' trade group. Richard Burnett, chief executive of the Road Haulage Association, called for decisive action from French authorities before our "worst fears are realised" and a "truck driver was killed".
On Saturday, 23 January, the northern port was temporarily closed and service disrupted through the night when over 100 migrants made their way onto a UK-bound P&O ferry. The mass boarding of the ferry occured while a protest took place to show support for migrants in Calais – who mostly live in a grouping of shacks, tents and sheds on the edge of the port dubbed 'The Jungle'.
As the migrants attempted to board the Spirit of Britain, the shipping company reported a "security incident" as a result of a "migrant invasion". And Burnett now says that the troops are now necessary to stop desperate migrants fleeing to the UK.
Burnett said the incident was the latest in a string of recent incursions in Calais, warning it was "only a matter of time before our worst fears become a reality and a UK-bound truck driver is killed".
He told the BBC: "This shocking breach of security clearly shows that the migrant mayhem in and around Calais is not being tackled. It is now time for the authorities to acknowledge and meet our demand for the French military to be deployed to secure the port and its approaches."
"The number of migrants in the camp has escalated, the number of attempts – violent attempts against drivers – has been escalating, and we think now, after yesterday's incident, enough is enough, the time for discussion's over – we need action."
P&O ferries are now operating a normal schedule after two-hour delays because of the invasion. The protest in Calais was said to have been attended by up to 2,000 pro-migrant protesters, some with "refugees welcome here" banners.
According to Médecins Sans Frontières The Jungle has seen a steady influx of migrants bringing the population up to 2,500, including about 250 children. Most of the migrants are refugees fleeing conflict in Syria, Afghanistan and Eritrea.