A husband and wife from Kent has had a harrowing experience travelling through Calais this week. Their car was attacked by around 40 migrants with their faces covered, wearing hoodies.
The migrants banged on the car and attempted to stop them, leaving the couple terrified. French border control officers refused to take action when they learned about the incident.
Paul and Lisa Burton, landlord and lady of the George Inn in Newnham, Kent, often take pensioners who stay at their Inn to visit Ypres in France for a day, but have vowed not to do so anymore following the attack on their vehicle.
Speaking to KentOnline, Burton recounted the attack: “We take our staff and friends on a day trip across the Channel, to Bruges or Belgium or France, often a few times a year.
“It was a great day out until we started our return journey to Calais.
“We were about a mile from the port at about 9pm and the road was suddenly blocked by a load of people with hoods and covered faces. I have no doubt that they were refugees.
“They were banging on the windows, hitting the car and trying to get in, shouting and screaming at us.
“Lisa was driving and she was blowing on her horn and driving slowly through, but who knows what would have happened if she had stopped.”
The masked mob had ambushed the couple on a main road close to the migrant encampment known as the Jungle where some 9 000 refugees are living in squalid conditions waiting to enter Britain illegally. The camp is due for demolition in the next few weeks and its foreign inhabitants will be dispersed to communities around France.
Burton approached French Border Control to report the incident, but the officers shrugged it off, saying that such incidents happened often. Many such attacks also go unreported they said, citing a coach that recently had all its windows smashed out.
“The situation in Calais is clearly completely out of control,” Burton said.
“We often go over to France on the ferry, two or three times a year, and we know a lot of others who do the same, but now we have seen what can happen on the other side, we will think twice before going back, and we hope others do too.”
Lisa Burton said she had been shaken by the events, and has vowed not to return to France soon. She said the eldery pensioners in the car with them were terrified.
“We all just gasped as soon as we saw the group and some of the older ones in the car were really upset as it was terrifying,” she said.
“I don’t know what they thought they could achieve by acting in this way. They are desperate, I know, and maybe angry that we could get to England so easy and they couldn’t but why did they think that by attacking and scaring us, this could help them?
“We won’t be returning until we know we are safe to travel around Calais and we want people to be aware of the situation. Imagine if we had children in the car?
“The ferry may be cheap at £19 a crossing, but it’s not worth it when you are at risk of this.”
The incident is the latest in a series of similar attacks on vehicles passing through Calais. Locals have been warning motorists to avoid certain roads after migrants started smashing up vehicles waiting in traffic. Truck drivers have repeatedly warned of the danger they face from migrants attempting to board their lorries to cross into Britain.
On Sunday an Eritrean man was killed while attempting to block the A16 road near Calais in order to slow traffic. The British driver reported the incident.
Meanwhile several French charity organizations in have asked a court in France to halt the imminent closure of the camp.
The organizations lodged their request at a court in Lille on Wednesday evening, according to an official. The judicial source said they were awaiting an emergency ruling to be delivered within 48 hours.
President Francois Hollande’s Socialist government has already started moving groups of refugees to new locations throughout the country.