World View: Migrants in Calais, France, Hospitalized After Violent Clashes

The Associated Press

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Migrants in Calais, France, hospitalized after violent clashes
  • Calais becomes difficult choke point in Brexit negotiations

Migrants in Calais France hospitalized after violent clashes

A group of migrants carrying sticks during clashes with other migrants in Calais (EPA)
A group of migrants carrying sticks during clashes with other migrants in Calais (EPA)

Police in Calais, France, intervened to protect around 20 Afghan migrants being attacked by more than 100 African migrants armed with iron rods and sticks.

This incident occurred on Friday afternoon, around the same time as a gunfight three miles away between about 100 Eritreans and 30 Afghans queueing for free meals at a distribution point near the town’s hospital. Between the two incidents, 22 migrants are being treated in hospitals, including five in critical condition with gunshot wounds.

Nothing like this was ever supposed to happen again, once France closed down and bulldozed the big Calais migrant camp called “The Jungle” in 2016. At one point, The Jungle housed almost 10,000 migrants, and France’s president Emmanuel Macron has promised that The Jungle will never return, saying, “There will be no reconstruction of the Jungle and no tolerance for the illegal occupation of public space.”

To prevent a new Jungle from appearing spontaneously, Macron has adopted a number of very harsh policies. According to various reports, police are treating refugees brutally. Materials such as sleeping bags and covers are being confiscated and thrown out. Refugees are prevented from sleeping in the open, so they have to run into the woods and sleep there. Sometimes the police spray food with teargas so that it becomes inedible.

Nonetheless, various estimates indicate that 700-1000 migrants are now “sleeping rough” in Calais, mostly in the woods. When “The Jungle” existed, there was an infrastructure including semi-permanent dwellings, regular food deliveries, and some level of police protection for the migrants. Today, it is total chaos, with migrants sleeping under trees, NGOs providing irregular food deliveries, and police committed to getting rid of the migrants.

A furious Calais Mayor Natacha Bouchart said such violence “was absolutely unacceptable,” and said her town was confronted by all-out gang warfare:

They are people who live off this. Culturally, they are against the state, institutions. They help neither the migrants nor the population.

The serious incidents multiplied from this afternoon. This was fighting between migrants, these were turf wars. There are more and more guns, iron bars and other weapons being used.

We have to clear the area. This is a security issue. The public can’t carry on accepting this situation.

France’s Interior Minister Gerard Collomb spent the night in Calais and said:

There will be people here at their wits’ ends faced with this increasingly violent presence among a certain number of migrants, who it is plain to see are organized in gangs.

We know there are gang leaders … and it is these networks we must dismantle.

Collomb has a solution: He said that within two weeks the government would take over control of food distribution from local aid groups and conduct the handouts outside the town. That, he said, would remove an incentive for the migrants to gather in Calais.

In addition, last month Britain and France announced that the 2003 Le Touquet migration agreement will be renewed and that Britain will pay £44.5 million to France to reinforce security measures in Calais, including fencing, CCTV, and detection technology. France 24 and Reuters and Daily Mail (London)

Calais becomes difficult choke point in Brexit negotiations

Last week, protesting French fishermen completely shut down the port of Calais. Fishing boats blocked ferries from leaving and entering the port, while on land, fishermen burned tires to block access to the port of Boulogne-Sur-Mer.

The fishermen were protesting electric pulse fishing by large trawlers. The technique uses electrodes to emit electric waves, stunning fish which then float upwards and are scooped up by giant nets. However, supporters of pulse fishing say the technique reduces unwanted bycatch and avoids plowing nets along the seabed.

The second issue that the French fishermen were protesting was that they could lose access to English fishing waters after Brexit. With Britain in the EU, all the fishing waters are shared by all EU countries. After Brexit, that issue has to be renegotiated. This is just one more of the difficult issues that the port of Calais is presenting to UK-EU negotiators.

The blockade of the port ended after a few hours, but it took many more hours to clear the traffic jam that had built up.

That is because more than 2.6 million vehicles per year cross the English Channel between Calais and the Port of Dover, and any temporary blockage can cause a major traffic jam.

Today, with Britain still part of the EU, vehicles move on and off ferries to cross the Channel without delay, but after Brexit, there will have to be customs border checks. France says that it will have to hire an extra 95 customs officers this year, to perform the border checks after Brexit in March 2019. According to one analyst, a two-minute delay to process a single truck could cause a 17-mile traffic jam.

Britain has not yet announced its plans for its own customs border checks on its side of the Channel, but prime minister Theresa May says that it is seeking the freest possible trade with the EU after Brexit. Independent (Ireland) and UK Haulier and Reuters and London Express

Related Articles

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, France, Calais, Britain, Dover, Afghans, Eritreans, Jungle, Boulogne-Sur-Mer, Emmanuel Macron, Natacha Bouchart, Gerard Collomb, electric pulse fishing, Brexit, Theresa May
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