Eritrean migrants shot in massive Calais brawl

DW | Published — Thursday 1 February 2018

At least four people have been shot after a fight involving more than 100 Eritreans and Afghans erupted in Calais. The French interior minister has announced a visit to the port city to “take stock of the situation.”

Migrants have remained in the port city in their attempt to reach British soil

A massive brawl involving more than 100 Eritrean and Afghan nationals in Calais on Thursday left four teenage migrants in critical condition after being shot.

Tensions have been high in the French port city since 2016 when authorities demolished a makeshift encampment known as the “Jungle,” which hosted thousands of migrants attempting to make their way to the United Kingdom across the English Channel.

Read more: France’s Emmanuel Macron vows not to allow Calais migrant camp repeat

What we know

Four people were shot during the fight, all of them Eritrean migrants between the ages of 16 and 18.

It was not initially clear who fired the shots that injured the four migrants.

The fight was between Afghan and Eritrean migrants. Authorities said police intervened to “protect the Afghan migrants faced with 150 to 200 Eritrean migrants.”

Humanitarian groups working in the area believe roughly 800 migrants remained in the area after the “Jungle” was demolished.

The migrants have camped in Calais in hopes of making their to the UK by stowing rides on lorries passing through the port city.

Thousands of migrants were relocated after the “Jungle” was demolished in 2016

Tensions in Calais

The Calais prosecutor’s office said at least 13 more people were injured after suffering “blows from iron bars.”

The fight drew the attention of the French government, with Interior Minister Gerard Collomb announcing a surprise visit to “take stock of the situation.”

Last month, French President Emmanuel Macron said, during a speech in which he announced a new border security deal with the UK, “in no case will we allow another ‘Jungle’ here.”

Read more: Opinion: Out of sight, out of mind – Clearing an ’embarrassment’ in Calais


Fleeing war and poverty

In late 2014, with the war in Syria approaching its fourth year and Islamic State making gains in the north of the country, the exodus of Syrians intensified. At the same time, others were fleeing violence and poverty in countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Somalia, Niger and Kosovo.

What was the “Jungle”: Before the 2016 demolition, the “Jungle” was a sprawling, informal camp that hosted thousands of migrants from Africa and Asia. The migrants were attempting to reach the UK, often by stowing away on lorries.

Why are migrants attempting to reach the UK from France: There are several reasons given by migrants for their attempts to reach British soil, but many of them hope to reunite with their communities in the UK.

What happens next: Macron has vowed to never allow another “Jungle” to re-emerge in Calais or elsewhere in France. Under the new security border deal with the UK, London will pay France to increase security at Calais.

ls/sms (AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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