Calais: Dozens of Migrants Storm Ferry in ‘Co-ordinated Attack’ on UK Border

Calais
BERNARD BARRON/AFP/Getty Images
VIRGINIA HALE

Dozens of migrants stormed a ferry in Calais, France, in a bid to break into Britain on Saturday night, in what police called a “co-ordinated attack” on the French docks.

Between 9:15 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., more than 50 migrants managed to board a Calais Seaways ferry which had just sailed in from Dover, England, with 211 passengers and 75 crew members on board, local media reports.

State representative for the Nord-Pas-de-Calais department, Jean-Philippe Vennin, said a high tide enabled the horde of migrants — whose nationalities are reportedly not yet known — to board the DFDS Seaways vessel using a maintenance ladder.

“Two of the migrants fell into the water and were quickly fished out by firefighters” while police organised “the removal of vehicles, cars and trucks” from the ferry, Vennin told local media.

Seventeen migrants were arrested and detained following the incident, according to the regional daily La Voix du Nord — which initially reported that one crew member was injured “during an altercation with the migrants” but later updated the story to say “there were no injuries”.

An operation involving ferry staff, police, and Perilous Reconnaissance and Response Group (GRIMP) rescue officers to remove a group of around 20 migrants who had lodged themselves on the ship’s chimney was completed by around 10:45 p.m., when they were eventually persuaded to leave one by one.

Gilles Debove, an official with the SGP FO police union, told the newspaper: “This was a co-ordinated attack, designed to take place at a time when police would be unable to deal with the situation due to lack of staff.

“The attack occurred simultaneously as [state orders relating to the] Yellow Vests [protests] meant we were unable to call for any reinforcement from the riot and public order police force (CRS)”, he said, adding that the number of attempts to storm the docks has been rising in recent months.

A Port of Dover spokesman confirmed that Calais was “dealing with a situation” last night, with The Sun reporting that the port was forced to shut for more than an hour as a result of the chaos, with ferries arriving from Britain ordered to remain in the sea, and away from the French docks, while authorities got the situation under control.

Christian Salomé, chairman of the Calais-based open borders NGO L’Auberge des Migrants, told local media he was “not surprised” by migrants “going all out” in their attempts to break into Britain, adding that the illegal aliens “think only of one thing — getting to England”.

But the activities of groups including L’Auberge des Migrants were highlighted as part of the problem by the President Chairman of the ports of Boulogne-Calais, Jean-Marc Puissesseau, who said it was “distressing that immigrants in Calais continue to be fed, cared for, [amd] given access to showers” while squatting in the region, after a previous block on such activities resulted in a significant drop in the number of illegal aliens basing themselves in coastal areas.

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