Mayor of the French town of Calais says her town had been confronted by an all-out gang warfare after Afghan and Eritrean migrants in a camp faced off in a bloody brawl that left five dead and others seriously injured.
The Thursday incident which is said to have lasted almost two hours led the French Interior Minister, Gerard Collomb to spend the night in the camp with the promise to deploy more riot police. The crisis believed to be related to queuing for food handouts involved about 100 Eritreans and 30 Afghans.
“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 organised in gangs,” Collomb told reporters after spending the night in Calais.
“We know there are gang leaders … and it is these networks we must dismantle,” the minister added.
Four Eritrean teenagers between the ages of 16 and 18 are reported to have been hospitalized whiles over a dozen others sustained injuries after they were attacked with iron bars in the confrontation.
It is not yet known which faction used firearms in the brawl as television pictures only showed people with rods and metal poles.
He also reiterated calls for the United Nations to undertake a probe into what he described as a scourge. https://t.co/rcCeUuRQM3
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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.
That, he said, would remove an incentive for the migrants to gather in Calais.
Francois Guennoc of the Auberge des Migrants charity told BFM TV that the government still lacked a coherent strategy. “Every time you arrest 10 people, another 10 fill the void.”
Collomb indicated the French government was concerned that hundreds of thousands of migrants would head to France after their asylum requests were rejected in other European countries, above all Germany.
He said half a million migrants, many of them people who had initially been allowed into Germany, had had their requests for asylum rejected.
“The situation’s untenable,” he told reporters, noting that France registered a record 100,000 asylum requests in 2017. Tens of thousands more had been turned around at the border, he said.
More asylum seekers in France came from Albania than any other country, according to official data. Collomb said that while Germany dealt with Albanian cases in several days, France took two to three years.