‘Operation Snail’: Protesters block Calais roads demanding removal of ‘Jungle’ camp
British media instantly dubbed the protest action 'Operation Snail', as it is apparently expected to cause huge traffic disruptions, both in France and on the UK side.
The protesters gathered in and around the northern French city of Calais on Monday morning, blocking roads in and out of the port and urging the authorities to shut down the camp.
Up to 80 trucks and 150 tractors are participating in a blockade of the A16 motorway, a key artery to and from the Calais port.
Truck drivers are converging at Dunkirk, to the north of Calais, and Boulogne, to the south, the Road Haulage Association chief executive Richard Burnett – who got the details from the French road transport union, the FNTR – told British media.
“Despite assurances that the action by Calais hauliers [truckers] would take the form of a go-slow, this now appears not to be the case. Both groups will then travel along the A16 towards Calais, converging at the Eurotunnel exit,” Burnett added.
About 200 farmers will be joining the protest, saying the migrant influx has led to destruction of crops and damage to farms in the region.
Immense disruptions for both passengers and freight are expected as a result.
“It seems certain that traffic crossing from the UK will find it almost impossible to leave the port as access to the A16 is denied,” Burnett said, as quoted by the Press Association.
“The inevitable repercussions of this will surely mean that the authorities on this side of the Channel will have no alternative but to deploy Operation Stack. This will bring yet further misery to hauliers bound for mainland Europe and of course for the people and businesses of Kent.”
Operation Stack is a procedure used by Kent Police and the Port of Dover in England to park (or ‘stack’) trucks on the M20 motorway in Kent when services across the English Channel are disrupted, for instance because of the bad weather or industrial action.
The numbers of migrants living the camp’s squalor is climbing steadily, with the figures provided by local activist groups now standing at over 9,000 people, while the government says there are about 6,900 people in the ‘Jungle.’
Just a couple of days ago, the French authorities begged the UK to take in hundreds of refugee kids from the Calais camp.
There has been an increased level of criminal activities linked to the camp as well, and an increased danger to drivers, as some migrants tried to attack passing vehicles, throwing various objects at windscreens and cutting trees in an attempt to hijack vehicles.
There have also been reports of criminals threatening drivers with chainsaws and machetes.
All in all, a whopping 10,000 migrants are smuggled into the UK yearly, according to French police and security sources cited by the Telegraph about a week ago.
The latest protests come after the French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve pledged to demolish the ‘Jungle’ – but announced the future construction of two other migrant camps in Paris.