Truck drivers travelling through Calais are still being attacked by UK-bound migrants on a daily basis, despite the closure of the notorious Jungle camp more than a year ago, the boss of Britain’s Road Haulage Association (RHA) has warned.
Richard Burnett said his organisation regularly receives reports of people traffickers going to extreme measures to stop lorries on the approach to Calais’ port in an effort to allow would-be refugees enough time to clamber into the back of trailers.
The RHA has also been told that migrants continue to throw rocks at trucks, haul boulders into the road to prevent traffic from moving, and have even been known to lie down in front of vehicles so as drivers have no alternative but to come to a halt.
Speaking with the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme, Burnett said that as well as being a humanitarian disaster for the migrants gathered around the French town, the ongoing migrant crisis is resulting in truck drivers being unable to do their jobs without facing violence and intimidation every day.
Complaining that neither the French nor UK governments are doing enough to protect hauliers who have no choice but the use the port of Calais to cross the English Channel, Burnett said he is aware of intelligence that shows the heartbeat detectors used by customs officers to search for migrants in truck trailers are intentionally being deactivated because authorities do not want to deal with the issue.
“That’s just not good enough,” he said. “The issue must be dealt with, the migrants must be processed quickly and the RHA will be doing all it possibly can to ensure that the summer of 2018 doesn’t bring continued misery for truckers.”
Hundreds of migrants are thought to be sleeping rough in and around the Calais area, waiting for a chance to sneak onto a lorry and make their way to the UK, despite the fact they have the option of staying at an asylum centres in France.
Campaigners have criticised French police for alleged heavy-handed treatment of migrants camped out in the region, with Human Rights Watch (HRW) accusing officers of dousing them with pepper spray and destroying their tents and bedding.
HRW also said French police are disrupting the activities of charities attempting to provide relief to migrants camped out in the Calais region, limiting the contact time they have with them.
At the end of November, five migrants were wounded by gun shots in Calais in a dispute that was thought to involve rival groups of people traffickers.