Published: Fri, February 02, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Five shot during violent clashes between migrants in Calais

Five shot during violent clashes between migrants in Calais

Interior Minister Gerard Collomb told reporters in Calais on Friday that five of the victims were injured by gunfire in Thursday's fighting, blaming migrant traffickers and "totally organized" gangs.

The initial fight, was said to have lasted nearly two hours, and began on the city's southern outskirts where migrants has been queuing for food.

Authorities say around 600 migrants are in the Calais region, though humanitarian groups put the number at 800.

The mainly Afghan and Eritrean gangs clashed soon after 3.30pm on Thursday as charity workers distributed meals close to the ferry port.

Another 13 people were hurt after suffering what were described as "blows from iron bars".

The Calais "Jungle" became the French symbol of the European migrant crisis, and some 7,000 people - most from the Middle East and Africa - were living there before the area was cleared.

Hundreds armed with rocks, wooden clubs and other improvised weapons were involved in the rioting, which went on until shortly before 6pm.

Promising to ease the pressure on Calais, where Britain's southern shores can be seen on a clear day, Collomb 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.

He tweeted: "After the serious incidents that have occurred today, I am going to Calais tonight for a situation with the prefect, the mayor of the city and the local actors".

"If (police) had not intervened yesterday, the casualties would have been even heavier", the minister said, accusing smugglers to be behind increasing violence in migrants camp.

"I will meet our security forces and emergency services in particularly hard times".

Last month, French President Emmanuel Macron said, during a speech in which he announced a new border security deal with the United Kingdom, "in no case will we allow another "Jungle" here".

Ms Bouchart said: "This was fighting between migrants, these were turf wars". The public can't carry on accepting this situation'.

This is the worst outbreak of violence between migrants in Calais for months, and the use of firearms is a worrying escalation of the tensions, the BBC's Hugh Schofield in Paris reports.

Last month, French President Emmanuel Macron stated that "in no case will we allow another "Jungle" here".

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