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Calais Port Closed After Protesting Migrants Storm Onto UK-Bound Ferry

A large demonstration in Calais escalated when a group of more than 100 protesters broke away from the main crowd and stormed through the French town's fortified ferry terminal.
Photo via VICE News

A large demonstration to champion the rights of migrants and refugees in the French town of Calais escalated on Saturday afternoon when a group of more than 100 protesters broke away from the main crowd and stormed through the city's fortified ferry port in a bid to get to the Britain.

A group of about 50 people successfully boarded a UK-bound passenger ferry named The Spirit of Britain.

DFDS Seaways, a large Danish ferry company, said on Twitter that the Calais port had been temporarily closed due to a "migrant invasion."


The protest was organized by various activist groups across France and the UK under the larger banner of "Refugees Welcome." Demonstrators marched from the Jungle, the sprawling refugee encampment in Calais, to the coastal city's main square.

Related: France Agrees to Build New Camp as Refugees and Migrants in the North Face Winter

The Jungle is now home to more than 5,000 people, many of whom fled war and conflict in their home countries. Elders from the camp were stewarding the protest and liaising with Calais police to ensure the demonstrators followed the organized route.

Video: Hundreds of migrants & refugees break into — Phil Caller (@Phil_Caller)January 23, 2016

At around 4pm, some protesters attempted to leave the central square, easily overwhelming a line of riot police who fired tear gas at them. As the breakaway group ran toward the ferry port, they chanted, "UK! UK! UK!" and "No more Jungle!"

March on Calais to the chant of 'UK UK UK' and 'no jungle' — Ben Ferguson (@FergusonBen)January 23, 2016

Demo reaches central Calais square peacefully — Ben Ferguson (@FergusonBen)January 23, 2016

Earlier in the day, British Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn visited the two camps in the area and was shocked by the conditions he saw. Speaking at Grand-Synthe, a smaller refugee camp in nearby Dunkirk, Corbyn said, "We have got people here who have been here for months if not longer than that, with no proper education, no access to dentists, limited access to food — in very cold, very wet conditions."

"These conditions are a disgrace anywhere" Corbyn added. "We as human beings have to reach out to fellow human beings."

Related: In Photos: Dunkirk's Refugee Wasteland, Even Worse Than the Calais Jungle

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