Volunteers delivering aid to Jungle camp ‘barred from travelling to Calais by French officials in Kent’

Exclusive: Nina Harries says she was stopped at French passport control in Folkestone and told: ‘You're not going’

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The Independent Online

People attempting to deliver aid to migrants in the Jungle camp in Calais have been prevented from entering the country by French officials working in the UK, according to volunteers. 

A van filled with supplies was allegedly turned away from the Eurotunnel in Kent on Friday afternoon. 

An emergency decree was issued by the Calais Préfecture on Thursday banning the entry of migrant related protesters but did not specify blocking humanitarian aid. 

The eviction of the Jungle is expected to begin on Monday, prompting renewed concern for its inhabitants. 

Nina Harries, 23, was travelling with her friend Alex Tennyson, 30, from London to Calais. She told The Independent she was driving a Ford Connect van filled with “eviction specific” items intended to help migrants being moved from the camp, such as suitcases, rucksacks and camping mats. 

Ms Harries claimed the donation had been agreed with charities at the camp before the attempted journey through the Eurotunnel at Folkestone and was intended to be a simple “in-out trip”, with no intention of taking part in protests. 

After picking up their tickets for the journey through the tunnel at around midday, Ms Harries said she passed through UK passport control without problems. 

However, on reaching the French passport control while still on UK soil, Ms Harries said: “The [official] straight away asked me ‘are you going to the Calais camp?’ I said yes.”

She continued: “Immediately he [the official] took the passport and said ‘you’re not going’. I pulled over and the man disappeared for about 10 minutes with our passports.”

“After he came back he said that the chief of police in France had this morning made a decision not to allow any vehicles or any aid to any of the entry points of the camp. He said they were very concerned about the volume of traffic.”

The official told Ms Harries an “internal disclosure” had been made on the morning of 14 October among French police, saying no vehicles could be admitted into France if they were suspected of travelling to the camp, she said. 

Ms Harries said the official expressed concern about anticipated large numbers of people turning up – coinciding with the beginning of the eviction – and told her 2,000 police officers had been deployed in the donations drop-off area of the camp.

She said she was refused a £60 refund for her Eurotunnel tickets and forced to return to London.

A spokesperson for the Calais Préfecture told The Independent that people suspected of travelling to the Jungle to engage in protests could be turned away. However, he was not aware of a ban on bringing aid donations to the camp and said people could travel to the area as normal. 

The Home Office declined to comment and said it was a matter for the French authorities. 

There was also a report of another vehicle carrying aid donations being turned away at Dover today but this has not been confirmed by The Independent.

While the imminent closure of Jungle has been welcomed by the local French residents and UN’s refugee council, a number of charities working in the camp have attempted to delay its demolition, seeking an injunction to halt the operation.

They believe proper plans have not been made for the refugees after the eviction.