Kurdish rally at Calais ‘Jungle’ camp ends up in police blockade, scuffles

French riot police blocked exit from a Calais camp dubbed the ‘Jungle’ when Kurdish asylum seekers tried to leave to stage a protest. At some point, the stand-off turned violent, with migrants accusing police of resorting to gas sprays.

A large group of Kurdish families tried to get to the port city to rally against living conditions at the camp. Protesters also demanded free passage to the UK. They were confronted by heavily equipped riot police wearing helmets and body armor, who cordoned off the ‘Jungle.’

The protesting refugees carried banners reading “Human rights for all” and “Refugees are not terrorists. They are often the first victims of terrorism.”

The situation quickly escalated as the refugees tried to make their way out of the camp, RT correspondent Polly Boiko reported from the scene.

“They put the gas spray in the faces of children and women,” one of the refugees told her.

At the same time, some refugees were seen throwing stones at police officers and trying to break through their ranks with sticks and the banners they were carrying. However, police are determined not to let the refugees out of the camp in the wake of the Paris terror attacks.

With frustration among the refugees growing and the atmosphere at the scene already tense, an escalation in unrest is expected any moment.

Monday’s confrontation is just the most recent in a series of clashes that broke out a week ago when the migrants, who earlier had been able to come and go freely, were blocked in the camp for the first time. Those clashes lasted three days, with police being forced to use water cannon and tear gas to restrain the crowd, and from 26 to 28 police officers were injured, according to different sources.

In another incident, about 200-250 migrants tried to block the Calais ring road on November 10, throwing rocks at police officers and attacking trucks with iron bars.

Local authorities cited security concerns, including an increase in theft and property damage, in explaining their decision to block the refugees’ exit from the camp.

The situation was aggravated further when a huge fire broke out at the ‘Jungle’ just hours after the massacre in the French capital.

Fear and suspicion spread among both local residents and refugees that what happened in Paris could also occur in Calais.

“It’s going to end in war. We will see the war. I think so! The migrants are becoming increasingly difficult. And we are getting more scared,” a local woman told RT.

“We have people from about 20 countries here, how do I know which people are Daesh (Arabic term for Islamic State), and which ones are not? Really, we are so nervous now,” a man in the refugee camp told RT.

The ‘Jungle’ in Calais is now home to up to 6000 people from different countries who have fled war, persecution and poverty hoping to reach the UK via the Eurotunnel. The vast majority have been unable to do so, however, due to strict security measures.