Migrants determined to get to Britain despite increased security


Migrants languishing in squalid conditions in Calais have spoken of their determination to reach Britain in the new year in the face of bolstered border security and the winter weather.

Some said they wanted to cross the English Channel to enjoy the freedoms denied in their conflict-ridden homelands, including Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

One, 14-year-old orphan Youseff from Aleppo, said he was desperate to restart his studies after making a perilous month-long journey from Syria without any relatives.

Now stranded in the wet and muddy "Jungle" camp in Calais, he said through a translator: "I want to get to the UK for protection, education, freedom - and a good life."

His hope is shared by others at the sprawling, ramshackle site, housing some 6,000 people in makeshift accommodation and tents, including 36-year-old Saman Amin.

Mr Amin fled Iraq with his wife and their six-year-old son after some family members were killed by Isis forces.

He said: "They are super-evil. They don't care about humans.

"They compare Kurdish people with Jewish people, they say we are not Muslim.

"That's why we are here. Our life was simply not secure there.

"I want to get to Britain. I like English people personally, and the country as well.

"I was a teacher, I speak English and, for me, there is more benefit if I come to England.

"But it's very hard to get there.

"There is more security now than there was six months ago.

"They won't let you in. But I won't give up. I will still try."

His efforts may prove difficult amid the vast stretches of razor-topped fences on approaches to the Eurotunnel terminal at Coquelles and the Port of Calais.

As she distributes bread, clothes and blankets to grateful migrants, aid volunteer Marie France, of Le Reveil Voyageur, said Britain was the goal for many at "The Jungle".

She said: "Many don't want to stay in France.

"We help only with bread, clothes and covers, but we can't help them cross (to Britain). It's not possible."

The increased security has not deterred some migrants from trying to cross to Britain, leading UK hauliers to brand Calais a "lawless" zone requiring military intervention.

On Wednesdays in particular, when there is a greater number of HGVs on the road, daring bids are often made to board trucks forced to slow by migrants rushing into the middle of motorways.

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) said despite the deployment at Calais of around 1,300 security officials, including CRS riot police and French gendarmerie, it was still not enough to protect drivers.

RHA chief executive Richard Burnett said many truckers refused to stop within 150 miles of Calais to avoid the "absolute mayhem" caused by some migrants intent on getting to the UK.

He said: "Now is the time for the association's calls for deployment of the French military to contain the situation be heeded and urgently acted upon.

"Increased security will not make the problem disappear overnight.

"But it will certainly act as a deterrent and will surely help to prevent my worst fear from becoming a reality - that a HGV driver wishing for no more than to complete his journey in safety, is killed."