Text by NEWS WIRES
Latest update : 2014-08-05
Migrants massing at France's English Channel port of Calais clashed before dawn on Tuesday in battles that left 51 injured - one seriously.
Police intervened with tear gas to break up clashes between Sudanese and Eritreans, the local prefecture said.
It was the third clash in 48 hours between migrants massing in Calais in a bid to cross the English Channel to Britain, their numbers swelling in summer months to more than 1,000.
France and Britain have long tried to dissuade migrants from using Calais as a stepping stone to Britain, and British police have been posted their since 2003, after a camp housing thousands of migrants in the nearby town of Sangatte was dismantled.
Calais city officials have complained about migrants roaming city streets and setting up makeshift tent camps, referred to as “jungles,” in vacant lots and elsewhere.
Resentment is particularly strong because the city serves merely as a stepping stone for those striking out for Britain, trying to cross the channel aboard via ferries and rail on trucks carrying goods.
Pressure on Calais typically increases in summer, with migrants mainly from Sudan, Eritrea and Afghanistan flocking to the port city. Many landed first by boat in Italy, which is increasingly waiving European rules to fingerprint migrants, allowing them to move on.
Outdoor camps were bulldozed in May. The migrants then occupied a food distribution center but were expelled. Now, authorities threaten to expel hundreds from two abandoned factories.
Police intervened with tear gas late Monday when Sudanese and Eritrean migrants faced off near the food distribution center. A fight broke out a second time about 1 a.m. near the port, according to a statement from the local prefecture, which represents the French state. Police moved in again to separate the two sides and let rescue workers through to take care of injured.
Date created : 2014-08-05