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Refugees Storm British Ferry at French Port


Converted shipping containers are placed at the entrance of the Calais refugee camp. Some refugees tried to force their way aboard a British ferry at the port city.

Converted shipping containers are placed at the entrance of the Calais refugee camp. Some refugees tried to force their way aboard a British ferry at the port city.


About 200 refugees attacked the French port of Calais on Saturday, and about 50 got on a passenger ferry.

A spokeswoman for the ship’s operator confirmed the refugees gained entry to an outer area of the Spirit of Britain ferry. But they did not get inside the ship because ferry workers had secured the doors.

The spokeswoman said some refugees agreed to leave the ship. The rest were removed or arrested, according to CNN television.

Passenger service was delayed by a few hours.

Another ferry company tweeted that the Calais port had been closed because of a "migrant invasion."

Thousands of refugees and migrants have lived in tents near Calais for 12 months. The area, called “the Jungle”, is a place where poor people live and the buildings are in poor condition.

Many of the refugees and migrants have fled war and poverty in Africa and the Middle East. They hope to cross the English Channel to Britain in search of a better life.

The incident on Saturday happened after about 2,000 people in Calais gathered to show support for the migrants and refugees.

A French member of the European Parliament said the conditions were “unacceptable.”

"It's like an open-air prison. It's a question of dignity, we can't allow this," Green Party politician and MEP Karima Delli told reporters.

CNN reported that French officials have moved some people into shelters made of metal shipping containers. Those shelters have heat and electricity.

In related news, about 2,000 refugees and migrants enter Germany each day. But Germany’s interior minister said Sunday that his country is denying entry to 200 others daily.

Germany accepted a record 1.1 million refugees and migrants last year. That has stretched resources and created angry political debate.

"People who are fleeing war and persecution are offered security and protection in Germany," said the minister, Thomas de Maiziere. "But that also means … anyone who doesn't want to apply for political asylum in Germany and wants to illegally enter Germany has no right to be here."

The German newspaper Bild am Sonntag published his comments.

I’m Mario Ritter.

VOANews.com reported on this story. Kathleen Struck adapted the story for Learning English. Additional information came from CNN. George Grow was the editor.

Do you have a suggestion that would help the migrants, refugees and governments dealing with them? Leave us a Comment below and post on our Facebook page.

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Words in This Story

ferry – n. a ship that transports people or goods

migrant – n. a person who goes from one place to another, usually for economic reasons

English Channel – n. body of water that separates France and the British Islands of Great Britain

dignity – n. a way of behaving that suggests seriousness and self-control

persecution – n. the act or condition of threatening others, especially those from other religious or social groups

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