More migrants trying to reach UK from Belgian port: officials

16th December 2015, Comments 0 comments

A growing number of migrants seeking to reach Britain are trying to leave from the Belgian port of Zeebrugge, prosecutors and police said Wednesday, with people finding it increasingly hard to make the dangerous crossing from France's Calais.

With makeshift camps similar to Calais' "Jungle" recently sprouting around the port of Zeebrugge, authorities detained 62 migrants Tuesday and handed them to immigration services, the West Flanders prosecution said in a statement.

The migrants were mainly from Iran, Afghanistan and Algeria, the statement added.

Zeebrugge is located some 130 kilometres (80 miles) from Calais, where some 4,500 people are living in notoriously squalid conditions in the Jungle camp.

In the past several weeks, Belgian police have noted "a growing presence of migrants in transit around the port of Zeebrugge", they said in a statement.

Police said that on recent nights they have found "not just migrants in transit, but also abandoned tents, sleeping bags, covers, backpacks, clothes and food... which means that people were hiding out in some areas".

"Sheets were strung up between bushes and people are trying to take refuge in empty buildings or under bridges," the statement said.

"Most of them are trying to infiltrate the port of Zeebrugge to make the crossing to Britain" by smuggling themselves onto trucks, it added.

With security tight around the Calais Jungle, authorities claim only a tiny number of people attempting to make the crossing from there to Britain now succeed.

Earlier this month a 16-year-old Sudanese boy was hit by a van on a motorway close to the Channel Tunnel, becoming the 18th person to die trying to reach Britain from Calais since June.


© 2015 AFP

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