Two migrants at a makeshift migrant camp in the city of Grande-Synthe were injured after gunfire broke out early Sunday afternoon, with one volunteer describing it as sounding like a “machine gun.”
Claudette Hannebic, a member of the ADRA association, a humanitarian group linked to the Seventh-day Adventist Church, witnessed the attack and stated: “It happened around 1:30 p.m., 1:45 p.m. I was far from the entrance to the Grande-Synthe camp, at the other end of the camp when I heard a [the first bang].”
“It was when we saw the [migrants] start running around the camp, completely panicked, that we realized it was gunfire… It was like a machine gun. I threw myself on the ground,” Hannebic told the European Union-funded website InfoMigrants.
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According to Hannebic, her association has worked in the area for ten years and has never seen such a level of violence before. She went on to describe the victims of the shooting saying, “He had been shot in the arm. He could walk but he was bleeding. We called the [paramedics] and then the police.”
“Then another man arrived a few seconds later, it was an Iraqi Kurd. He was carried in a blanket by other people, he had been hit in the abdomen, I think, he was in bad shape,” she added.
The case is not the first time there has been a shooting at a makeshift migrant camp in the area, according to activist groups, who stated that there have been gunshots since last Thursday, mainly at night and at least three people have been hospitalised as a result.
Claire Millot of the Salam association speculated that the violence may be due to people smugglers fighting with each other saying, “Maybe these settling of scores are linked to a war between smugglers of different nationalities.”
Many of the migrants in Northern France attempt to cross the English channel using boats provided to them by people smugglers and while migrant smuggling networks have been broken up by police or major figures arrested, migrants continue to cross the English channel.
The UK has also taken measures to try and deter migrants from crossing, including a deal with Rwanda to ship migrants to the African country after they arrive in the UK, but not all have been deterred by the policy as earlier this month around 600 boat migrants arrived in the UK in a single weekend.
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