Calais refugees: Port of Calais closed after 50 migrants occupy ship following protest

Around 50 migrants occupied Spirit of Britain ferry, with a reported 500 gaining access to the harbour

Peter Apps
Saturday 23 January 2016 19:45
A group of migrants are believed to have tried to board the ferry
A group of migrants are believed to have tried to board the ferry

The Port of Calais was closed earlier after around 50 migrants occupied a ferry, following protests in the town in support of refugees.

Around 500 migrants are reported to have broken into the harbour, with 50 making it aboard P & O ferry the Spirit of Britain.

Police attended the incident, which was resolved later in the evening and the port reopened. Services to and from Calais had been severely disrupted while it was dealt with.

But just before 10pm, P & O Ferries tweeted: "Port of Calais security incident is now resolved.Vessels are now loading and hope to clear backlog as soon as possible."

Campaign group Calais Solidarity tweeted that migrants occupying the ship were sprayed with a fire hose from an upper deck before being removed.

Ferry company DFDS Seaways has tweeted: "The Port of Calais has been temporarily closed due to a migrant invasion, as soon as they are cleared the port will reopen."

P & O Ferries also reported delays of up to two hours, describing the ongoing situation as a "security incident".

The BBC quoted Calais mayor Natacha Bouchart as saying 50 asylum-seekers had boarded a P&O ferry while it was unloading. It said the police were on the scene.

A statement from the Port of Dover said services were disrupted due to "migrant activity" in Calais, with services in and out of Calais affected.

It read: "The Port of Calais is currently experiencing migrant activity which has caused disruption to ferry services... The Port of Dover remains open for business, but the duration of this disruption to services remains unknown."

The incident followed a demonstration by up to 2,000 people in Calais in support of migrants, with protestors carrying banners reading "migrants are welcome".

Earlier today, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn visited camps in Calais, where thousands of people who have fled the conflict in Syria are based.

Commenting on the conditions in the camp, he said: "These conditions are a disgrace anywhere. We as human beings have to reach out to fellow human beings."

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