Truckers to block UK port of Dover in migrant protest
Prime Minister David Cameron on Friday said he was confident efforts by undocumented migrants to reach Britain via the French port of Calais would be curbed even as British truck drivers planned a protest.
A Facebook group called "Support the Calais to Dover Truckers" has called for action on Saturday at Dover, Britain's ferry terminal that is the busiest in Europe, handling 350,000 tonnes of cargo annually, with around 10,000 container movements per year.
Under the slogan "Close the Port of Dover, Secure Our Border," they said drivers were "under constant attack from illegal immigrants" coming over from Calais in France, and were facing fines for unknowingly transporting them.
French police say around 1,500 migrants, mostly from Eritrea and Sudan, are trying to slip into trucks bound for Dover.
The British and French governments agreed last weekend that London would contribute up to 15 million euros (£12 million, $19 million) to pay for increased security in Calais including a new secure truck park, higher alarmed fences and new security gates.
"I am very confident that we will get the situation under control," Cameron told reporters on Friday.
Kent police said they were "aware" of the planned protest at Dover Eastern Docks and indicated they would be ensuring the daily activities of the port continue "unimpeded".
Natalie Chapman, head of policy at the Freight Transport Association, agreed that truck drivers were being put in an increasingly difficult situation, but said blockading the port was not the way to improve it.
She said some drivers have been forced to re-mortgage their homes and take out loans to pay fines of up to £2,000 (2,561 euros, $3,262) per migrant found in their trucks.
"We need more done as soon as possible to stop lorry drivers being put at risk as we are concerned about their safety and welfare," Chapman said.
© 2014 AFP