CALAIS, France (AP) — Britain and France are fortifying security around the Channel Tunnel and boosting intelligence efforts against traffickers in an effort to dissuade thousands of migrants from trying to make the illegal — and sometimes deadly — undersea journey to British shores.
British Home Secretary Theresa May and French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve are announcing joint policing efforts Thursday as they try to overcome diplomatic tensions around Calais, a flashpoint in a European summer marked by unusually large waves of migrants.
Higher fences, surveillance cameras, floodlighting and infrared detection technology are some of the ways they’re trying to deter migrants from the treacherous journey.
Since the start of June, at least 10 migrants have died trying to sneak through the Channel Tunnel in hopes of finding prosperity in Britain. Countless others have slipped through undetected on trucks and one recently on foot. Britain and France have accused each other of not doing enough to manage the migrants.
Most Read Nation & World Stories
- Motorcycle stunt rider Alex Harvill dies while trying to break world record in Moses Lake
- US-Canada border restrictions extended until July 21
- A teen buys repossessed storage units at auction, then gives the contents back to the original owners
- Sports on TV & radio: Local listings for Seattle games and events
- Woman falls to death at indoor climbing gym
An estimated 3,000 migrants are camped in Calais with more arriving daily, drawing intense political attention in Britain. Elsewhere in Europe this year, Germany has seen 360,000 migrants arrive and 160,000 migrants have reached Greek shores.
May insisted on the importance of distinguishing between refugees fleeing war and repression and migrants coming illegally to seek better economic prospects. She stressed the global nature of the current crisis.
“This is not just a problem that starts here in Calais. It’s a problem that starts elsewhere in the world with migrants trying to come abroad with organized criminal gangs,” she said Thursday at the tunnel entrance, which she visited with her French counterpart.
The two countries are creating a joint police command center run by police from both countries to better coordinate intelligence to disrupt migrant trafficking gangs. The French government has dismantled 120 trafficking networks this year, Cazeneuve said.
No cost has been announced for the new measures.
There are now about 400 surveillance cameras, 200 French guards and 500 other French security forces surrounding the area near the entrance to the tunnel, according to British officials.
Britain has financed four-meter-high (13-feet) border fences that Eurotunnel spokesman Romain Dufour says have reduced migrant storming considerably. The number of attempted tunnel crossings has dropped to about 150 a night since emergency security measures were put in place, down from a height of about 2,000 in late July, Eurotunnel says.
France will also strengthen support for aid groups and local officials helping the most vulnerable migrants, Cazeneuve’s office said. The minister emphasized the “human dramas” driving people to make the treacherous journey.
Cazeneuve heads later Thursday to Germany for more talks on migration.
Danica Kirka in London and Angela Charlton in Paris contributed to this report.