Dozens hurt as migrants clash in France

2014-08-05 19:57
(Philippe Huegen, AFP)

(Philippe Huegen, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Calais - Dozens of mainly African migrants were hurt on Tuesday in fresh clashes in the French port of Calais, as a new report warned of a dramatic rise in illegal immigration to Europe.

Police reinforcements were called in the early hours of Tuesday to break up running battles between hundreds of mainly Eritrean and Sudanese migrants that left 51 people injured.

One man was rushed by helicopter to a nearby hospital with serious head injuries.

This was the second consecutive night of scuffles between rival groups seeking passage to Britain. The previous night, 13 people were hurt in fights involving around 150 people.

"The fights started after dinner and spread to the port area. They lasted most of the evening and into the night," local police authorities said.

One port worker said around 300 migrants were involved in Tuesday's running battles.

Local authorities estimate the number of migrants currently in Calais at 1 300, a "50% increase in a few months", said Denis Robin, the top local official.

Veronique Devise, from the Secours Catholique charity, said the situation in the port city had deteriorated and there was now "a bit of an explosive atmosphere".

"The migrants are so desperate. Sometimes they want to take a lorry by force and head off to England," she said.

'Territorial battle'

Devise called for "political action at the European and national level", as a new report showed a nearly 10-fold increase in the number of illegal immigrants making their way to Europe, in many cases taking advantage of growing lawlessness in Libya.

The report by French border police, unveiled by daily Le Figaro, said nearly 62 000 illegal immigrants had landed in Italy in the first six months of the year, compared to just under 8 000 in the same period in 2013.

Eritreans made up 31% of this total, while people fleeing war-torn Syria accounted for 17%.

This has increased the "migratory pressure on the border with Italy", the French report said, adding that 5 200 arrests had been made there so far in 2014.

The interior ministry told AFP that "everything, including a drop in asylum-seekers in France in the first half of 2014, points to the fact that migrants see France as a transit country."

Many of those who land in Italy make their way through France to Calais in a bid to get to Britain. French authorities have arrested 7 500 illegal immigrants attempting to cross the Channel already this year.

Human rights activist Philippe Wannesson said the clashes were a result of a "territorial battle" between groups that would normally leave each other alone as space becomes limited in the port.

The situation was likely to get worse, he warned.

"The number of people coming from Italy after crossing the Mediterranean will continue to increase until at least the autumn," he said, as crossing the already perilous sea becomes even harder as temperatures drop.

"The harder it gets to get into England, the more the tensions will rise."

Hundreds of would-be immigrants die in the dangerous Mediterranean crossing every year, while others are detained by Italian police once they reach the southern EU member's territorial waters or the islands of Sicily or Lampedusa.

Read more on:    france

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

Junior Chef

Century City
Pro Placements Recruitment Agency
R8 000 - R9 000 Per Month

CSR Inbound

Cape Town Northern Suburbs
O'Brien Recruitment
R14 000 - R16 000 Per Month

Graphic Designer

Cape Town Northern Suburbs
Creative Sourcing
R7 000 - R9 000 Per Month

Property [change area]

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.