British families are facing huge delays leaving for France because illegal immigrants from North Africa invaded the Channel tunnel last night. Five thousand migrants are now camped in Northern France, and attack the UK border fences every night in the hope of getting to the British mainland.
For those hoping to cross the English Channel the border is located in two small areas of UK territory: the Port of Calais and at the Channel Tunnel terminal, both of which are on the French side. Last night’s incursion into the Channel tunnel was so serious that it was closed altogether to stop illegals getting through it. The tunnel is served by trains which cars drive aboard, the size and speed of the trains are such that the company cannot risk having any obstructions.
The immigrants keep breaking through to both the Port and the Tunnel despite the UK having re-enforced the border with the 'ring of steel' used to protect the NATO summit in Wales last year. The fencing had been approved by the US Secret Service as strong enough to protect the president, but it is still proving no match for the increasingly desperate immigrants.
Most British schools broke for the summer holidays yesterday and thousands of families are now attempting to leave the UK to get to continental Europe. The National Health Service is warning them to pack food and water into their cars as the current delays of three hours are expected to increase over the weekend.
The Channel Tunnel operator blamed the problems on “intensive migrant activity” and has responded by effectively turning the M20 motorway into a car park. One immigrant is believed to have been killed by trying to jump on top of a moving train.
The chaos caused by the illegal immigrants is not just a problem for tourists, hauliers are also concerned about goods being held up or damaged. Thousands of trucks bring imports from continental Europe, and they are now regularly tampered with by the immigrants as they wait to board ferries and trains to the UK.
The Chief Executive of the UK Road Haulage Association, Richard Burnett, said: "Business owners are being forced to take extreme action by scrapping cargo. They can't take any risks if goods have been tampered with or contaminated."
He added: "Approximately 10,000 loads pass across the Channel every day. Even if just 1 per cent of those loads are tampered with or contaminated, at a loss rate of around £30,000 per trailer, this equates to around £3 million per day, totaling £1 billion per year.
“That's a huge and unacceptable loss to the UK's economy. What's worse is that many haulage firms have to absorb a large amount of these losses."
The group has claimed shops may start running out of some products from Europe if the attacks continue. The Home Office has responded by offering to build a new “secure zone” for lorries in France so they cannot be attacked whilst they queue.
Immigrants are able to make it to France because of the Schengen Agreement which has abolished border controls across most the European Union. Africans who are trafficked to Italy can make it as far as France without any paperwork. They are stopped at Calais because the British government has refused to sign up to the agreement.
There is pressure for the UK to sign Schengen and allow more illegal immigrants in to take pressure off the French.
Below is footage of an attack on the lorries.