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France & UK push for united front in migrant crisis, as criticism mounts

Migrants make their way along train tracks as they attempt to access the Channel Tunnel in Frethun, near Calais, France, July 30, 2015.
Migrants make their way along train tracks as they attempt to access the Channel Tunnel in Frethun, near Calais, France, July 30, 2015. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

The interior ministers of Britain and France have called for a united front to tackle the deepening migrant crisis in Calais. This comes as 400 new attempts were made on Sunday to cross the Channel tunnel, police have said.

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"Finding a solution to the problem of migrants who risk their lives to reach Britain, must be our absolute priority," Bernard Cazeneuve and Theresa May, respectively interior ministers of France and the UK, told Sunday daily Journal du Dimanche.

The increasing numbers of young men scaling metal fences, clambering aboard lorries and jumping onto trains in the desperate hope of reaching the land of their dreams, has become a sorry sight in recent weeks.

Cazeneuve and May acknowledged that "there was no simple solution," but have resolved to tackle the problem together.

Meanwhile, rival demonstrations have been taking place in the UK near the port of Folkestone by supporters in solidarity with migrants in Calais, who on Saturday urged Eurotunnel to take greater precautions to help prevent further deaths of those attempting to enter Britain.

They clashed with English nationalists who staged their own counter-protest, calling instead for Britain to secure its borders more tightly.

Even in France, the UK's perceived laxist immigration policy, has also got tongues wagging. Xavier Bertrand, the former Work minister and senator with opposition party Les Republicans, accused Prime minister David Cameron of deliberately "wooing migrants with the promise of short-term gain."

"The British need to change their work rules, because everyone knows that migrants can still get a job without the necessary papers, and are thus paid less than ordinary workers," he said in the Sunday daily Journal du Dimanche. "The UK must do something."

On Sunday, migrants from Ethiopia and Eritrea successfully crossed the border.

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