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DOZENS of Syrian asylum seekers were today occupying a roof and footbridge in Calais and demanding: “Take us to the United Kingdom”.

Riot police were trying to control the group, all of whom want to claim housing and benefits in Britain rather than France. 
Around 40 of them have gone on hunger strike and refuse to move from the bridge in the Calais ferry port. Some have also climbed on a roof and threatened to jump off unless their demand to be taken to England is met.
“We are treated like dogs in France and do not want to stay here,” said one migrant, who said his name was Majid.
“Britain is a fair country, and that is why we want to go there – we will be treated will by the British government.” 
Placards held up by the 60 plus refugees include slogans including “Take us to the UK” and “We want to talk to David Cameron”.
Riot police tried to clear the refugees from the gangway, but they backed off when they saw the two men on the roof threatening to jump off. 
Britain dispatched extra border agents to northern France as tensions among the migrants grew.

 

Denis Robin, the prefect of the Pas-de-Calais region, said: “The Syrians are in a stalemate. What we can do is offer them asylum in France”, adding that they all had a “95 per cent chance of success.”

Mr Robin said: “We cannot take any decision on their access to Britain. I am not persuading them to settle in France but trying to legalise their status.”

France has only registered 850 asylum claims from Syria this year, according to the UN.

A spokesman for Calais port said there was “no disruption to ferry services” so far caused by the protest.

Syria has close historical links with France, which has promised to speed up asylum claims from those who have escaped the civil war.

But the process is slow in France, with few benefits made available while migrants are waiting.

French President Francois Hollande had led the calls for military action against Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad’s regime, but his government has been criticised for not doing enough to help Syrian refugees.

Those sleeping rough are quickly moved on by the police, leaving them to rely on homeless charities.

The Calais group includes women and children, all of whom say they come from towns which have been bombed continually.

One woman, who said she originally came from ‘near Damascus’, said: ‘The procedures for us to claim asylum are far simpler and quicker in Britain.

“Once there we will be well treated, and can bring our families too. We can start new lives in Britain.”

 

Calais is a notorious magnate for migrants from all over the world, many of whom try to get into Britain illegally, either in the back of lorries crossing the Channel by ferry, or by hiding in trains.

Increased security at the port has made illegal passages far more difficult however, with the French working to control the flow with their British counterparts.

Seventeen countries including France are liaising with the United Nations receive quotas of refugees fleeing war in Syria, which has claimed more than 100,000 lives since it started in early 2011.

Some two million refugees have been created by the conflict, many of whom are in Syria’s neighbours including Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan.

See on www.express.co.uk

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