Eurotunnel loses court bid to close refugee centre

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A French court today turned down the Channel Tunnel operator's second request to shut down a refugee centre, which, it says, is feeding the flow of asylum seekers hiding on trains heading to Britain.

Eurotunnel had filed a second request to try to close the Red Cross centre at Sangatte, near the French entrance to the tunnel. The court in Lille turned down Eurotunnel's first request in September.

Every night, refugees attempt the dangerous passage, either trying to jump on trains passing through the tunnel or cross it by foot. TheAnglo–French company believes the shelter is exacerbating the stowaway problem.

The camp, set up by official decree in 1999 in an unused Eurotunnel hangar, was designed to house 600, but there are usually twice as many people staying there, including many Iraqi Kurds and Afghans. It has become a starting point for people hoping to slip into Britain, where immigration laws are relatively lenient.

On 19 January, a man was electrocuted and killed while hiding atop a freight train headed toward the tunnel.