French riot police have arrived at a Calais port terminal to try to move dozens of Syrian refugees who have been blockading a walkway to the port building for three days, demanding access to British officials in order to seek asylum in the UK.
The approximately 60 Syrians include seven minors and a few women – one pregnant – with the rest being men, at least 20 of whom are on hunger strike.
Many had taken months to travel through Turkey and the Balkans in an attempt to reach Britain, but found themselves stuck in Calais in makeshift squats in abandoned buildings, or sleeping rough after being evicted by French authorities.
Angered at their poor conditions, they picketed the terminal, where ships leave for British ports, with cardboard signs reading “Take us to the UK” and “We want to talk to David Cameron”.
French police stand by as two Syrian refugees sit on the roof of a ferry terminal at Calais
Officers stand by as two refugees sit on the roof of a ferry terminal, threatening to jump if police try to move them. Photograph: Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images
When riot police arrived early on Friday, two of the Syrian men climbed on to a roof and threatened to jump as police tried to negotiate with them to come down. The local prefect offered the Syrians the right to apply for asylum in France, but they continued their protest.