RIOT police launched a crackdown last night on migrants in Cherbourg – which has become the front line in Britain’s war on illegal immigration.
Stowaways were pulled from under a lorry in the Normandy port as part of the operation to cut off this new route to the UK.
The men, who claimed to be from Iraq, were perched over a rear axle of the 36-ton truck. They had been hoping to get on to a ferry bound for Poole, Dorset.
Instead they joined the 150-odd immigrants arrested in Cherbourg every night. Home Office figures show 1,300 were stopped on this route in July alone.
“It’s a war and a very difficult one,” said Jean-Louis Fargeas, Prefect of the Le Manche district of France, which covers Calais. “We have deployed nightly patrols to deal with the situation but the problem goes on and on.”
The riot police accompanied Mr Fargeas as he inspected security at the passenger and cargo port, which runs regular services to and from Poole, Portsmouth and Southampton.
Within minutes of arriving, the police shone their torches under lorries queuing for a Brittany Ferries ship that takes up to 590 vehicles to England.
The captured men, in their early 20s, said they had boarded a lorry from Poland. They shouted a stream of obscenities and made rude gestures at police before being searched and taken away for questioning.
“They will be asked if they want to claim asylum in France. But so far no one arrested in Cherbourg has asked for sanctuary in France. They prefer to go to Britain. They say they want to go there to get rich,” said Mr Fargeas.
Last week French trucker Thierry Troncon was fined £4,000 after three migrants were discovered in the back on his truck on his arrival in Poole from Cherbourg.
He said: “Security in Cherbourg is a joke. They climb on to your truck when you are waiting to get on the ferry to England.
And when they are discovered in Britain the driver is fined. It’s just not fair.” There are now so many would-be asylum seekers living rough in Cherbourg that the city’s legal department yesterday applied for a court order to destroy a makeshift refugee camp.
Oslo-based Color Line has taken delivery of a new cruise ferry that will start running between Oslo and Kiel, Germany next week. The vessel is aimed at offering some cruise luxury on a short-haul basis.
The new Color Magic will be a sister ship to the Color Fantasy that was introduced on the Oslo-Kiel route last year. It will replace an older, more traditional vehicle- and passenger ferry that soon will start sailing between Ireland and the European continent
Olav Nils Sunde, sole owner of Color Line, thinks a NOK 7.5 billion investment program in new vessels will be justified by economic growth in both Norway and Germany, Norwegians' growing appetite for travel and the good life, and increasing cargo transport to and from Norway.
More than 4 million passengers traveled on Color Line's routes between Norway, Denmark, Germany and Sweden last year. More can soon be accommodated on the venerable Oslo-Kiel route, which remains popular year-round.
The Color Magic is billed as the" world's largest cruiseship with car decks." Its 15 decks in total can carry 550 cars plus trucks, and the vessel has 1,016 cabins, including 54 suites, that offer a total of 2,975 beds.
The overnight voyage between Oslo and Kiel will allow passengers time to check out a shopping mall, spa, cinema and several restaurants. The vessel, like the Color Fantasy, was built at Oslo-based Aker Yards' Rayma shipyard in Finland.
Color Line will also take delivery of two new fast-ferries next year. Those vessels will run day-trips from Larvik and Kristiansand in Norway to Hirtshals on the northern tip of Denmark.