Tuesday

24th Apr 2018

Eurostar suspended after people seen on tracks

  • France and Britain have already taken emergency measures to deal with a surge in the number of migrants trying cross the Channel Tunnel (Photo: CGP Grey)

Empty Eurostar trains left London on Wednesday morning to collect passengers in Calais, who had been stranded for hours in the tunnel connecting the UK with the continent after migrants climbed on the tracks.

“Trains are waiting to enter the tunnel as trespassers are on the tracks at Calais, the authorities are on site to help. Updates to follow,” the official Eurostar account tweeted late Tuesday night.

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Three trains carrying passengers from Paris to London, one train from London to Paris, and one service running from Brussels to London were delayed.

By Wednesday morning passengers on the 9055 train from Paris to London were still waiting at the Calais-Frethun station in northern France after “intruders" on the tracks blocked trains from entering the Channel Tunnel, a Eurostar official told AFP.

The station is close to Calais where over 3,000 migrants, who live in makeshift camps, have been trying to cross the tunnel to Britain.

Passengers suggested on social media that migrants may have climbed on to the roofs of trains.

France and Britain have already taken emergency measures to deal with a surge in the number of migrants trying cross the Channel Tunnel after at least nine people died in an attempt to reach England. Around 100-200 attempt to get through daily.

New EU attempt

With Europe facing its biggest refugee crisis since World War II, the European Commission is to unveil new plans to distribute refugees across European states as well as to speed up deportations of those whose asylum applications are refused.

EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos told Reuters that new EU systems for processing asylum claims in Italy, Greece and possibly Hungary could involve detaining with rejected application until they return home.

The new proposals are to be presented to EU interior ministers at an emergency meeting on 14 September. The plans will be outlined by Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker during his annual state of the union address next Wednesday before the European Parliament.

A relocation plan for 40,000 asylum-seekers was presented in May, but member states refused to sign up to a mandatory scheme.

Avramopoulos said he now thinks governments are more willing to share the burden as they see the migration crisis unfolding.

The commissioner also insisted there would be no change to Schengen, the passport-free travel zone, despite calls that it is needed to prevent migrants exploiting the system.

Along with drawing up a common list of “safe” countries whose citizens' asylum claims will be "fast-tracked" toward rejection, the commission is expected to offer EU governments new proposals on speeding up the removal of those whose asylum claims fail, including the possibility for use of detention.

Hungary U-turn on migrant trains prompts unrest

Hungary's decision to block migrants from going to Germany has prompted chaotic scenes in Budapest, with PM Orban to meet European Commission chief Juncker on Thursday for talks on the situation.

Trains packed with migrants arrive in Vienna

Hungary has said Berlin should clarify the legal status of migrants travelling within the EU, as thousands of refugees in Budapest demand to travel to Germany.

Opinion

Fighting the prejudice

Instead of outrage at the desperate people who are trying to reach Europe’s shores, public anger might be better directed at the prejudice which people from certain religions or with a certain skin colour face every day.

France tightens immigration law, sparking division

French lawmakers are cracking down on asylum seekers in a bid to send those rejected back home. Controversial measures they passed over the weekend will now be debated in the French senate in June.

Opinion

Calling time on European-Turkish strategic relations

With an Erdogan-Putin summit on Tuesday, joined by Iran on Wednesday, it is time for Europe to face facts - Turkey's ties with the West are no longer strategic. When Europe goes hither, Turkey deliberately goes thither.

EU mulls coercion to get refugee kids' fingerprints

EU policy and law makers are ironing out final details of a legislative reform on collecting the fingerprints of asylum seekers and refugees, known as Eurodac. The latest plan includes possibly using coercion against minors, which one MEP calls "violence".

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