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French Police Block 2,000 Britain-bound Migrants from Eurotunnel

  • VOA News

Migrants who successfully crossed the Eurotunnel terminal walk on the side of the railroad as they try to reach a shuttle to Great Britain, July 28, 2015 in Frethun, northern France.

Migrants who successfully crossed the Eurotunnel terminal walk on the side of the railroad as they try to reach a shuttle to Great Britain, July 28, 2015 in Frethun, northern France.

Authorities in the northern French port city of Calais say police late Monday pushed back more than 2,000 migrants trying to enter the Eurotunnel in hopes of reaching Britain.

Eurotunnel officials described the migrant push as the largest of several such attempts by thousands of refugees to gain entry into Britain in the past six weeks. Eight migrant deaths have been reported at the tunnel since mid-June.

Estimates of between 5,000 to 10,000 migrants from Africa, the Middle East and beyond are living in squalid encampments in and near Calais, a city of 70,000. Observers say their push to enter the 50-kilometer undersea tunnel has intensified in recent weeks, after authorities stepped up port security to block migrants from stowing away on Britain-bound vessels.

The tunnel confrontation - the second such faceoff between police and migrants in the past two days - caused major delays in Eurotunnel service for much of Tuesday. British vacationer traffic to the continent also was snarled.

Eurotunnel train service and vehicle traffic also was suspended overnight Saturday into Sunday, in a similar confrontation between migrants and police.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, speaking Tuesday, told the French news agency that police made some arrests, but he did not offer details. His counterpart, British Home Secretary Theresa May, said her government will put up an additional $10.8 million to help France secure the Eurotunnel site.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has rebuffed attempts by European leaders to force Britain to take quotas of refugees who have crossed the Mediterranean in search of better lives.

Pressed at an EU summit by Germany, Italy and other nations to take more refugees flooding the continent, Cameron invoked an EU procedure to block those demands. Other European leaders eventually agreed to resettle 60,000 refugees on a voluntary basis.

Britain's Guardian newspaper says as many as 150 migrants are arriving daily in Calais, triggering high-level warnings that as many as 10,000 migrants could try to enter Britain by the end of August.

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