Four teenage migrants are in critical condition after being shot during a massive two-hour brawl in the French port city of Calais. The fight broke out between Afghani migrants and those from the northeast African country of Eritrea while waiting in line for food handouts. While the migrants primarily used sticks, stones and iron bars, it is unclear who shot four of the Eritreans aged between 16 and 18.
At least 13 more people were injured in the melee, with some suffering “blows from iron bars,” according to the local prosecutor’s office.
A second brawl broke out three miles away at an industrial site in the southern outskirts if Calais between approximately 20 Afghan migrants vs. 150-200 Eritreans before French police intervened.
Interior minister Gerard Collomb traveled to Calais by helicopter and may stay overnight.
“After today’s serious incidents I shall be heading for Calais tonight to take stock of the situation with the prefect, the mayor and local players,” including police, Collomb tweeted.
J’ai tenu à venir sur le terrain, au plus près des unités déployées.
Pour leur renouveler mon soutien et ma confiance alors qu’elles sont parfois injustement mises en cause.
Pour réaffirmer notre mobilisation face aux passeurs qui nourrissent quotidiennement violences et rixes. pic.twitter.com/iQzgCM68DG
— Gérard Collomb (@gerardcollomb) February 2, 2018
À Calais, la vraie violence, c’est celle des passeurs qui exploitent avec cynisme la misère et la peur des réfugiés.
303 filières ont été démantelées en 2017 (+6%) dont 24 à Calais.
Nous poursuivrons cet effort dans les mois qui viennent. Ici, comme partout sur le territoire. pic.twitter.com/sTJxVrMdTM
— Gérard Collomb (@gerardcollomb) February 1, 2018
Some 10,000 people hoping to make it to Britain used to live in the Calais “jungle camp” before it was demolished in 2016, however hundreds of migrants remained in the port city hoping to hitch a ride on England-bound trucks, reports The Guardian.
Those left, most of them young African and Afghan men, have been living rough in the woods and clash regularly with police, who clear their encampments and stop them from setting up roadblocks in a bid to slow passing trucks.
Grim living conditions have led to regular confrontations between migrants of different nationalities, and five people were shot in a fight between rival Afghan groups last November.
Charities operating in the area say approximately 800 refugees are currently living in Calais, however local authorities believe it’s between 550 – 600. Either way, that suggests the massive brawl involved as many as 27 – 40 percent of the remaining migrants.
Last month French President Emmanuel Macron announced a “zero tolerance” policy for camps like the Calais “jungle,” while rolling out a new border security deal which will see Britain paying France more in order to stop migrants from reaching its shores.
Macron says he wants to step up the expulsion of economic migrants while slowing down asylum applications – an approach touted as a blend of “humanity” and “efficiency.”
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