French riot police have used tear gas on migrants who attempted to cross the Eurotunnel from Calais into Britain.

More than 200 migrants tried to cross the undersea tunnel from Calais on Sunday.

One Minute Mediterranean Migrants

The migrants broke down several levels of fencing by the tunnel's entrance but French riot police responded by moving them away from a motorway and spraying them with tear gas.

Thousands of migrants have tried to make it into the tunnel in recent weeks with hopes of finding a way onto a train or lorry headed for Britain. At least 10 migrants have died attempting the dangerous journey since June.

Al Jazeera's Charles Stratford, reporting from Calais where many of the migrants have been camping for months, described the conditions in the camp as "utterly atrocious".

"When you ask them why it is so important for them to get to the UK, they all say similar things and they include this perception that immigration policy in the UK is easier than it is in Europe, it's easier for them to find a job, they say that the wages are better and they say that they want to be part of an English-speaking culture," our correspondent said.

"They also say that they will continue despite the risks, to try and jump some of those fences, cross that channel and start what they see as being a better life."

'Top priority' 

UK protesters clash over Eurotunnel migrant crisis

The interior ministers of France and Britain released a joint statement on Sunday that said ending the crisis that has choked traffic on both sides of the tunnel and harmed trade was a "top priority".

Both countries are committed to tackling the problem together and have beefed up security to deter further bids by desperate migrants to smuggle themselves to Britain, the statement said.

"Tackling this situation is the top priority for the UK and French governments. We are committed and determined to solve this, and to solve it together," Bernard Cazeneuve and his British counterpart Theresa May wrote in a statement published in France's Journal Du Dimanche and in Britain's Telegraph newspaper.

The statement came a day after pro and anti-migrant protesters clashed at the Eurotunnel terminal in the British city of Folkestone.

Members of the nationalist English Defence League told Al Jazeera at the protest that they believed there were enough migrants in the UK already.

"We've had enough, we've got enough [migrants] here at the moment - our country is on its knees, we need to concentrate on our veterans and our homeless and our NHS service," one protester said.

Thousands of migrants have attempted the crossing in recent weeks [Reuters]

"Allowing more and more people into this country is going to deteriorate our system even more."

But members of Folkestone United, a residents' group, campaigned for better treatment of migrants trying to reach the UK and said Channel Tunnel authorities and British politicians had to do more to save migrant lives

"There are a lot of people that feel the way I do, which is that migration is a force for good and we need to do more to treat our fellow human beings with respect," Bridget Chapman, Folkestone United spokesperson, told Al Jazeera.

Jackie Walker, a member of the same group, said: "There needs to be a European initiative that properly sets up managed refugee camps where people can be properly fed and properly processed rather then left to live like animals in the 'jungle'."

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies