Tensions have boiled over as hundreds of anti-immigrant protesters, a few dozen left-wing counter demonstrators and 300 riot police clashed over the 1,500 migrants squatting in the Port of Calais in France.
The anti-immigrant group, who assembled under the ‘Let’s Save Calais’ campaign (Sauvons Calais) mocked the fifty opposing ‘Calais Migrant Solidarity’ supporters, who they described as “left-wing fascists” who were trying to prevent them “speaking up for the people of Calais”. As the two groups clashed, the French riot police who are more used to managing the ‘Jungle’ immigrant camp were forced to intervene, reports the Daily Telegraph.
One protester with the anti-immigrant group who came with her daughter spoke to the press, saying “We just want a better future for own children. Having lots of young men sleeping rough in the town makes for a very unpleasant atmosphere”.
The spokesman for Save Calais, twenty year-old Kevin Reche said “We’re nationalists and we want to stop the immigrant invasion not just in Calais but in the whole of Europe… The migrants should be deported from French territory and placed in closed detention centres until they can be sent home.” “women are scared to go out at night”.
The migrant camps, which resemble shanty towns have become a recognised part of the landscape in the northern French port, as settlements nicknamed ‘the Jungle’ by local law enforcement have plagued the town for a decade. The matter shot to prominence in France and the UK last week after shocking footage of bands of men burst through security barriers and charged the ramps of loading ferries hit the news.
In a press conference last week, the Mayor of Calais expressed her frustration at the presence of the migrant camps, and called on the people of Calais to blockade the port itself in protest over Britain’s apparent unwillingness to get involved in the security operation there. Mayor Natacha Bouchart said on Thursday “There needs to be a realisation that the people of Calais have suffered in this situation for 12 years. Until now we have had no help, no word of compassion and no support … It is time for the UK government to take responsibility”.
The British Government offered the port Authorities £3 million in June to boost security but never received a reply. Immigration Minister James Brokenshire MP has gone even further this weekend, offering Calais the twelve miles of high-security fencing that had just been used to create the Cardiff NATO conference ‘ring of steel’.
Again no official answer has been heard from the Calais authority on the fence gift, which could be used to create a secure Port. The offer is not good enough for the people of Calais, however who would rather the ‘unbearable’ immigrants were not there at all. Save Calais spokesman Reche complained “There’s no fence high enough to keep out migrants”.