France is boosting security around its entry to the tunnel that runs beneath the English Channel, after thousands of migrants tried to make a desperate rush to Britain. One migrant died; at least 3,500 have tried to make the trip this week.
Since the start of 2015, French officials have intercepted more than 37,000 migrants who were hoping to jump on trains or trucks heading to Britain via the tunnel that’s called the Eurotunnel in France and the Channel Tunnel, or Chunnel, in Britain.
Some 2,000 migrants tried to get into the tunnel Monday; another 1,500 tried to make the trip Tuesday night — and a Sudanese man in his 20s was found dead this morning. Citing police sources, France 24 says he was hit by a truck, becoming the ninth migrant to die in the area in the past two months.
From Paris, NPR’s Eleanor Beardsley reports:
“In recent months, thousands of migrants from places such as Eritrea, Sudan and Syria have been pouring into Calais. From there, they try to stow away on trucks and trains traveling to Britain.
“Migrants say they want to reach Britain because they speak some English, have family or friends there, and they believe job prospects and asylum benefits are better there.
“The migrant encampments have strained relations between Britain and France, which blame each other for failing to cope with the crisis.
“But despite increased security and taller fences, the migrants keep coming.”
The spike in attempted migrant crossings has cramped both commercial and tourist travel. The BBC relays the story of one truck driver who says “it took me 23 hours to travel from Junction 8 on the M20 in Kent to Calais” — a 70-mile journey — while carrying a load of livestock.