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Politique; Société/FRANCE

Calais port reopens after migrants escorted off ferry

The makeshift migrant camp in Calais now has 120 shipping containers with 1500 beds.
The makeshift migrant camp in Calais now has 120 shipping containers with 1500 beds. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

The northern French port of Calais was shut for several hours on Saturday evening after dozens of migrants briefly boarded a ferry in an attempt to reach Britain.The boarding came after some 2,000 people protested over living conditions in a nearby makeshift migrant camp known as "the Jungle".

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"A group of 500 people forced their way through police lines and headed to the port, and 150 people were able to get into the fenced-off area. Of these, a group of some 50 managed to board a ferry," police said.

The port issued a statement that the estimated 30-40 migrants who boarded the Spirit of Britain ferry, operated by P&O, were calmly removed by police around two hours and the port reopened around 8.30pm local time.

Earlier in the day demonstrators hailing from Britain, France, Belgium and Italy held banners reading "Refugees welcome", "Calais, Lesbos, Lampedusa, our borders kill", "Open the borders, let them in".

They are demanding "dignified living conditions" for the camp's estimated 4,000 migrants, most of them from north Africa, the Middle East and Afghanistan.

Port director Jean-Marc Puissesseau called for the Jungle to be relocated.

"The proximity of the camp and the unprecedented number of migrants make it impossible to secure the (port) infrastructure, however much the state invests," he told the AFP news agency.

British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn on Saturday visited the neighbouring town of Dunkirk, which is home to another camp named the Grande Synthe.

Corbyn, a veteran left-wing campaigner before becoming Labour leader, said he wanted to "understand the nature of the refugee crisis that's facing the whole of Europe".

He said that Britain should do more to address the problem.

"These conditions are a disgrace anywhere. We as human beings have to reach out to fellow human beings." he said.

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