Representatives of British lorry drivers have called for the army to be sent to Calais to protect vehicles if attacks and attempted hijackings by migrants do not subside.The warning comes as new figures from France’s interior ministry reveal there have been more than 17,000 attempts to illegally reach the UK by migrants in Calais so far this year, despite the clearance of the ‘Jungle’ camp in 2016.
“If the levels of violence seen over the last six to eight weeks persist, I’d like to see the military brought back in[to the French port town]”, industry liaison and intelligence officer Andrew Round said in a statement issued by the British International Freight Association (BIFA).
“It is just not fair on the drivers; something has to be done between the UK and French governments above and beyond what they are already doing,” added Mr. Round, who works for the National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service (NavCIS).
BIFA said disruption and the threat to drivers from migrants often increase at this time of year, drawing attention to two recent incidents in Calais which claimed the life one driver and left another hospitalised with “serious” head injuries.
On June 18th, a Polish van driver was killed after his vehicle smashed into lorries that had been forced to stop on a busy motorway between Dunkirk and Calais due to a road block of tree trunks erected by migrants.
The driver died as his van burst into flames, and nine Eritrean migrants, reportedly desperate to break into Britain, were suspected of the crime.
Less than two weeks later, at the beginning of July, authorities warned of “escalating violence” in the town following two days of fighting. More than 100 Eritrean and Ethiopian migrants fought pitch battles, attacking one another with stones and sticks leaving over a dozen hospitalised.
The warning was not heeded, and less than six weeks after the first driver death at Calais caused by migrants, a trucker was struck on the head with a brick by migrants who then stole his vehicle.
Migrants have been returning to Calais in increasingly large numbers after the clearance of the infamous Jungle camp 10 months ago in October 2016.
Some fear a full-scale return to widespread chaos in the town seen last year – when 10 thousand migrants lived in the camp, and roadblocks, migrant riots, and attacks on lorries were commonplace.