Henry Samuel, The Telegraph |
Migrants’ tents are pictured in the migrants camp of Grande-Synthe, near Dunkirk, on January 20, 2016, where almost some 2,500 migrants and refugees live, mostly Iraqi Kurds and Syrians.
AFP / PHILIPPE HUGUENMigrants’ tents are pictured in the migrants camp of Grande-Synthe, near Dunkirk, on January 20, 2016, where almost some 2,500 migrants and refugees live, mostly Iraqi Kurds and Syrians.
A gunfight has erupted in a migrant camp in northern France, leaving four people wounded after clashes that were thought to have involved rival gangs of smugglers.
Two men were treated overnight for gunshot wounds, a third for stab wounds and a woman for blows to the head following the clashes at the Grande-Synthe camp near Dunkirk.
Four people were held for questioning on charges of attempted voluntary homicide. Police believe the fight erupted between rival people smuggling gangs against a backdrop of simmering tensions between Muslims and Christians in the camp.
The Muslims are trying to expel the Christians from the camp.
David Michaux, a CRS anti-riot officer from the Unsa Police union, told Le Figaro: “There is a real problem of Muslims and non-Muslims. Most of the camp’s 3,000-odd occupants are Muslim Kurds from Iraq, Iran and Syria but a minority are Christians from Iran.
“The Muslims are trying to expel the Christians from the camp.”
He added: “A unit of gendarmes was at the Grande-Synthe camp [on Tuesday]. They heard shots fired, around 40 according to their estimates.”
Police found 9mm bullet casings but, despite sending in scores of anti-riot officers overnight, no weapons.
Grande-Synthe is 22 miles away from the so-called “Jungle” camp in Calais. The population has rocketed from a mere 80 in recent months, and now includes 250 children.
As in Calais, most of the migrants hope eventually to reach Britain. But the camp has been labelled as being even worse than the “Jungle” as its makeshift tents are situated on dangerous, disease-prone boggy ground next to a motorway.
The occupants of Grande-Synthe are due to be relocated to another site housing 2,500 people and equipped with heated tents, running water, lavatories and showers so that it meets UN standards for refugees.
The CAD$2.2 million construction bill will be picked up by the French government but some British MPs fear the new camp risks acting as a magnet for larger numbers of migrants who want to reach Britain.
The gunfight came three days after Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, visited the camp. Describing conditions there as worse than he had expected, he said: “These conditions are a disgrace anywhere. We as human beings have to reach out to fellow human beings.” Corbyn said Britain should be part of a European-wide effort to help the people affected by the crisis.
Manuel Valls, the French prime minister, has warned the influx is putting the EU’s future in “grave danger.”
The violence in Grande-Synthe comes amid heightened tensions among the 7,000 or so migrants now in camps in northern France, where it is increasingly difficult to reach the UK due to stringent security.
Hours after the shots were fired, an alleged Iraqi people-smuggler with 11 migrants in his van drove at a line of police, who replied by firing guns at the vehicle. Two migrants were taken to hospital after being hit by a Flashball, a non-lethal weapon used by police. The driver was arrested.