Calais: Four migrants critically injured after being shot in two-hour brawl

Four migrants were in critical condition after being shot and more than a dozen others were injured, some seriously, during clashes in the northern French port of Calais between Afghans and Africans, local authorities said.

Calais: Four migrants critically injured after being shot in two-hour brawl
French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb meets with gendarmes in Calais following the brawl Photo: AFP
Some 22 people were hospitalised Thursday, according to an official total, including four Eritreans aged between 16 and 18 who needed surgery, local prosecutors said. Another wounded migrant was taken to the nearby city of Lille because of his “very serious state of health,” the local prefect's office said.
“We have reached an escalation of violence that has become unbearable for both those from Calais and migrants,” said Interior Minister Gerard Collomb during a visit to one of the sites of the clashes. “This is a level of violence never seen before.”
Two police officers were also injured during the clashes.
A nearly two-hour fight broke out on the southern outskirts of Calais among about 100 Eritreans and some 30 Afghans who had been queueing for food handouts. It started when an Afghan fired shots.
A second fight then broke out at an industrial site around five kilometres (three miles away), with more than a hundred Eritreans armed with iron rods and sticks fighting about 20 Afghans, prosecutors said.
“Police intervened to protect the Afghan migrants faced with 150 to 200 Eritrean migrants,” the local prefecture said, adding that security reinforcements were being deployed in the area.
Further violence broke out late afternoon in an industrial area of Calais, not far from the site of the old Jungle camp.
It was the worst violence in Calais since clashes on July 1, 2017 left 16 people wounded. A year earlier in June, 40 people were injured in clashes in the northern port town which draws migrants trying to sneak across the Channel into Britain.
Migrants line up for food distribution. File photo: AFP
Regular confrontations
The notorious Jungle camp in Calais, once home to some 10,000 people hoping to make it to Britain, was demolished in 2016, but hundreds of migrants remain in the port city seeking to stow away on England-bound trucks.
A judicial source equated Thursday's unrest with that 2015, when the camp was created.
Those left in the area, most of them young Africans and Afghan men, have been living rough in the woods and clash regularly with police, who clear their encampments and stop them from setting up roadblocks in a bid to slow passing trucks.
Grim living conditions have led to regular confrontations between migrants of different nationalities, and five people were shot in a fight between rival Afghan groups last November.
Charities working with migrants in the area say around 800 are currently living in Calais, while local authorities put the numbers at 550 to 600.
Last month President Emmanuel Macron vowed zero tolerance for camps like the “Jungle” and secured a new border security deal which will see Britain pay more to stop migrants trying to reach its shores.
Macron has said he wants to step up expulsions of economic migrants while speeding up waiting times for asylum applications — an approach he touts as mixing “humanity” and “efficiency”.
But his tougher line has earned criticism from some of his allies, with his former senior aide Jean Pisani-Ferry among those signing a hard-hitting open letter claiming Macron risked betraying his image as a humanist.


French minister apologises for Champions League chaos

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin on Tuesday made a partial apology for chaos at last month's Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool in Paris, while insisting fake tickets and "delinquency" were mostly to blame.

French minister apologises for Champions League chaos

“Should things have been managed better at the Stade de France (stadium)? The answer is yes. Am I partly responsible? The answer is yes,” Darmanin told RTL radio.

“Of course, I readily apologise towards everyone who suffered from this bad management of the event,” he added.

After scenes of fans crowded into tight spaces and being tear-gassed by police caused outrage around Europe, Darmanin poured fuel on the fire by blaming supporters with fake tickets for the disruption.

UEFA events director Martin Kallen last week told French senators investigating the fiasco that the football body’s count of fake tickets was far short of the tens of thousands claimed by French authorities.

“We don’t believe it’s the number mentioned in France,” he said, adding that 2,600 fake tickets were identified at turnstiles — compared with the number of 30,000 to 40,000 people with fake tickets and without tickets suggested by Darmanin.

“It was a question of fake tickets… that created the difficulties we all know about” of large crowds of fans packed into underpasses or outside locked gates, Darmanin insisted Tuesday.

He added that “if there was something that went wrong at the Stade de France, it was the fight against delinquency”, saying he had already ordered a reorganisation of policing around the venue and that three major matches since had passed without incident.

While some supporters did report being victims of crime by gangs of youths before and after the match, there were also many complaints about police treatment of fans.

Disabled Liverpool fans last week told the Senate how officers sprayed tear gas at people in wheelchairs.

The English supporters have reacted with particular fury to Darmanin’s defence of the French police’s actions.

“People’s memories will forever be tarred by the lack of organisation and heavy-handed policing, and then of course the way authorities tried to deflect blame and scapegoat Liverpool fans for their incompetence,” Liverpool mayor Steve Rotheram told AFP earlier this month.

CCTV footage from around the stadium has also been deleted despite the Senate probe.

A government report published earlier this month said a “chain of failures” by French authorities has inflicted “severe damage” on the image of the country as it prepares to host the Olympic Games in 2024.