Two hundred migrants from Afghanistan and Eritrea have clashed at an encampment in Calais, leaving seven injured; one with a broken leg. The violence erupted out of a dispute which took place as someone attempted to jump the queue for an evening meal.
Christian Salome of the Auberge des Migrants association said that tensions were high in the camps, as winter was making living conditions tough, and lorry traffic was slow, creating fewer opportunities for the migrants to sneak into Britain.
There are currently around 2,300 migrants in and around Calais, most sleeping in makeshift camps. All are trying to find a way to cross the channel into Britain; some of them have been trying to make the crossing for more than a year. Although official European Union rules stipulate that asylum seekers must register in the country on which they first set foot, which, for the majority is Italy, most ignore the ruling to make their way north.
In October, National Front leader Marine le Pen said “The rule of law no longer holds sway in Calais. Now it’s no more than a jungle where violence and the survival of the fittest reign.” She has called for the immediate reintroduction of border controls within Europe.
Last summer, three clashes between the migrants left 51 injured. Police had to use tear gas and seal off areas to restore order. By October, France’s Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve was forced to assign an extra 100 police officers to the city, 70 to protect the port from attack, and 30 more to patrol the city centre. Britain also pledged £12 million to assist in the policing efforts.
Commenting on this most recent clash, which took place on Saturday, police union official Gilles Debove said “We know the least thing can spark differences.”