British PM slams 'unacceptable' chaos as illegal migrants try to cross channel via French port

Migrants gathering near a line of lorries waiting on the motorway which leads to the Channel Tunnel terminal in Calais. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) - British Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday blasted the "totally unacceptable" scenes as growing numbers of migrants attempt to enter Britain illegally by hiding in trucks at the French seaport of Calais.

On Tuesday, striking French ferry workers triggered severe transport disruption at Calais, while would-be illegal immigrants living around the port tried to capitalise on the hold-ups by getting through fences and boarding stationary trucks.

There are around 3,000 migrants camped out in Calais attempting to cross the Channel - a presence that is causing friction between Britain and France. Britain's Interior Minister Theresa May said the majority of the migrants arrived on European shores in Italy, having been trafficked across the Mediterranean Sea from north Africa.

"It is totally unacceptable scenes that we've all been witnessing," Mr Cameron told Parliament. "Of course we want to see migrants better documented and fingerprinted but frankly a lot of that needs to happen in Italy, where they land, rather than in France."

He said Britain would take action to improve security in Calais and work with other European countries "to stop this problem at source to break the link between getting in a boat and getting settlement in Europe".

"We've got to do more to make sure that Britain is a less easy place for illegal migrants to come to and work in," he added.

Mr Cameron said there was no point in Britain and France "trying to point the finger of blame at each other".

Britain will increase its screening measures in Dover on both freight and tourist vehicles, while sniffer dogs have been deployed at the border check in northeast France.

London will also create a task force of 90 people including investigators, border officers and prosecutors to try to disrupt gangs trafficking people hoping to reach Europe.

Members of the task force will be sent to Sicily where many of the migrants first arrive in Europe on boats from Libya, to Europol headquarters in The Hague and to north Africa itself.

Britain has deployed a warship in the Mediterranean to help rescue migrants at sea and bring them to European shores, while its communications spying agency GCHQ is gathering information about trafficking gangs.

Mr Nigel Farage, leader of the anti-mass immigration United Kingadom Independence Party, said: "This will only get worse as huge numbers of people continue to cross the Mediterranean to Europe in response to a clear EU message that nobody will be sent back.

"The UK has become the No. 1 destination of choice due to the size of our employment black market and the failure to deport 75 per cent of caught illegal immigrants."

He said Mr Cameron's words on Wednesday "will not deter a single illegal immigrant from trying to break into a car or a lorry".

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