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European Commission offers assistance in managing Calais crisis

media The EC’s Migration and Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, seen here in May 2015, has announced a 20-million-euro instalment to France Reuters/Francois Lenoir

The European Commission has offered to help France and Britain deal with the migrant crisis at the Channel Tunnel, announcing it will send a first instalment of financial assistance to France of 20 million euros.

Britain has already received 27 million euros.

"This comes from the total of over 266 million euros earmarked for France and over 370 million euros earmarked for the UK for the period covering 2014 to 2020," the EC’s Migration and Home Affairs Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said in a statement.

The commission has also offered the two countries its technical assistance, including help to process asylum applications through a support office.

“The European Borders Agency, Frontex, can help identify and register migrants, collaborate with countries of origin and transit to speed up the issuing of travel documents for return, and coordinate and finance joint return operations," the statement said.

The crisis in Calais is "another stark example of the need for a greater level of solidarity and responsibility in the way we deal with migratory pressures in Europe,” Avramopoulos said.

"We are facing a migratory crisis of extraordinary proportions that is very much linked to the conflicts occurring in the wider periphery of Europe.

"We must act in a united way to address a challenge that surpasses national boundaries," he added.

French police last week bolstered their presence in Calais with 120 additional officers, on top of the 300 officers already in the northern town.

Meanwhile, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve has urged Britain to do more to help with the crisis.

At least 10 people have died trying to cross the Tunnel into Britain, and migrants attempted to storm the Eurotunnel terminal more than 2,000 times in one day last week.

A police source told French news agency AFP Tuesday that some 500 migrants had been seen overnight next to the Channel Tunnel site near Calais, and of the 600 attempts they made to enter, around 400 were repelled by authorities.

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