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Migrant crisis: Europe counts the costs

Friday, July 31, 2015 - 01:46

UK haulage companies say the Calais migrant crisis could be costing the UK economy a quarter of a billion pounds a day. But, as David Pollard reports, the numbers of those trying to cross the English Channel from the French port are dwarfed by a growing migrant crisis on the Serbian/Hungarian border.

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Summer - time to get away. Or if you're a truck driver, possibly not. Thousands stranded on both sides of the English channel by an escalating crisis in Calais. A key international crossing point brought - at times - to a standstill as migrants make desperate bids to mount trains and lorries bound for the UK. Whilst others wait for their chance. (SOUNDBITE) (English) 20-YEAR-OLD ERITREAN MIGRANT SAYING: "I like England." Around two and half million lorries cross the Channel each year. They carry an estimated £200 billion worth of UK trade - the UK's haulage companies now also getting desperate. Nathalie Chapman is the London head of policy for the Freight Transport Association. (SOUNDBITE) (English) NATHALIE CHAPMAN, HEAD OF POLICY - LONDON, FREIGHT TRANSPORT ASSOCIATION, SAYING: ''This is having a huge impact on both trade coming into the UK and on exports out the UK as well. We estimate the cost to the UK freight industry of about 750 thousand pounds a day, but to the wider UK economy of about £250 million pounds a day.'' In Calais, some 3,000 migrants are camped out trying to cross the water to Britain. In the Balkans, well over 100,000 are believed to have entered Hungary illegally this year. And here in Serbia, more are waiting to try to join them. A month from now, Hungary says it'll seal its border with Serbia with a four-metre high, 175-kilometre long barrier to keep them out. Aleksander Vulin is Serbia's labour minister. (SOUNDBITE) (Serbian) MINISTER FOR LABOUR, EMPLOYMENT, VETERAN AND SOCIAL POLICY, ALEKSANDAR VULIN, SAYING: "I am afraid we are going to face a humanitarian catastrophe when thousands of people who want to leave Serbia physically will not be able to." The government says it's spending 15,000 euros a day in support for the migrants. With around one thousand of them entering Serbia every day, the bill for this crisis can only grow.

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Migrant crisis: Europe counts the costs

Friday, July 31, 2015 - 01:46