Migrants detained after storming port of Calais

At least 63 migrants were detained in Calais ferry terminal, after a coordinated push to board a Dover-bound ferry, French officials said on 3 March 2019. Among those detained were Afghans, Pakistanis, Eritreans and Somalis.

Late on the evening of 2 March, about 100 migrants broke through the perimeter fence and stormed the port as they tried to board a ferry bound for the UK.

Around 50 managed to board the DFDS-operated Calais Seaways, which had just arrived from Dover, senior regional official Jean-Philippe Vennin told Agence France Presse (AFP). The ferry had arrived carrying 211 passengers and 75 crew members.

Police talked down about a dozen migrants who had climbed high above the deck of the ship to a catwalk attached to its funnel.

“Two of the migrants fell into the sea and were quickly rescued by firemen,” Vennin said. Migrants who fell into the water were slightly hypothermic.

“The migrants crossed a pedestrian gangway normally used by employees and I am convinced the place had been cased and that last night’s operation was orchestrated by people smugglers,” harbour master Jean-Marc Puissesseau told reporters.

Rumours are reported to have increased desperation among migrants to reach the UK before Brexit. Authorities are now concerned that the desperation is leading smugglers and migrants are resorting to new tactics.

There have been no confirmed changes announced by the British government on post-Brexit UK asylum or immigration policy. As such, those who arrive in the UK are still likely to be returned to France under the Dublin Regulation, an EU law that means that asylum seekers are the responsibility of the first EU country they pass. In January 2019, the UK began returning irregular migrants arriving in the UK to France.

“It’s not normal to have 100 migrants break into a secure area such as a harbour,” Calais mayor Natacha Bouchart said.

At least two ferries had to wait at sea before being allowed to dock as traffic was delayed until the next morning.

The incident happened a day after a French court sentenced three migrant smugglers to prison. AFP reported that the 32-year-old Iraqi, considered the group leader, received an 18-month sentence from the court in Boulogne, on the northern French coast. His two accomplices, a 30-year-old Iranian and a 39-year-old Iraqi, were each jailed for a year and all three men were banned from French territory.  

TMP – 07/03/2019

Photo: Ian Stewart/Shutterstock.

A DFDS Seaways Ferry at the Port of Calais.