Freight News, Road

RHA dismayed by Dunkirk migrant plan – further updated

[ January 5, 2016   //   ]

The Road Haulage Association says it is dismayed at the news that a new migrant camp is to be built at Dunkirk ferry port, 30 miles from Calais. It would cause “yet more misery for the thousands of UK-bound hauliers who regularly use this alternative route to cross the Channel”, said RHA chief executive Richard Burnett.

He added: “Britain has committed £19 million in funding for fences, CCTV and other security measures at Calais since the crisis erupted in June and has already invested £7 million in a secure HGV parking area and additional fencing at the port. We now learn that the French government will apparently be picking up the £1.1 million bill for the new camp. As experience has clearly shown, this will barely scratch the surface of the problem.

He said that RHA’s greatest concern was that the number of staff will be reduced and redeployed to Dunkirk.

The RHA will continue to push for deployment of the French military at Calais and will be requesting a meeting with the Mayor of Calais, Madame Natacha Bouchart. Madame Bouchart has also voiced her concerns for the citizens of Calais who have been placed in an untenable situation.

The Freight Transport Association’s says an online poll showed 96% support planning a new camp near another port such as Dunkirk was “madness”. The FTA asked its Twitter followers over Christmas if they thought the Jungle Camp should be relocated – 96% of the 68 respondents voted yes. FTA’s Head of Policy for London and the South East, Natalie Chapman, said: “There is undoubtedly a humanitarian crisis here and genuine refugees should be treated with respect and have their cases properly processed. However, the Calais camp is far too close to the road and the port, putting our members’ livelihoods – and indeed their lives – at risk.

“This is Western Europe in the 21st Century – it’s unthinkable that we can’t come up with a solution to this problem instead of allowing thousands of migrants and refugees to live in squalid conditions while international transport operations are put in jeopardy.”

The FTA understands the planned new camp is to be situated 30 miles from Calais and funded by the French government. The Association has been calling on the French government to move the camp since 2013 when problems first started to escalate.

However, at the port of Dunkirk’s annual press conference in Lille on 6 January, supervisory board president Francois Soulet de Brugiere pointed out that there was already an immigrant camp in the Dunkirk area at the Grande Synthe site and that some adequate provision had to be made following a rapid increase in the numbers there.

A spokesman for the port’s security service added: “Two years ago the city accepted a small camp of about 100 people for social reasons but this summer the numbers exploded to around 2,000. Conditions in this camp are very bad – there are very few toilets, for example – so there is a project to transfer it 1-2km away, though the exact site isn’t known yet.”

The spokesman added that attempts were made nightly to get on board UK-bound trucks in the port of Dunkirk but most were intercepted.

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