French police unleash tear gas against migrants in Calais, as mayor calls for army help
French media outlets reported that about 800 migrants occupied a bypass leading to the port, and began throwing projectiles at passing trucks, in a bid to slow them down, so they could be mounted. Twitter images have emerged of vehicles with broken windshields, and forcibly opened cargo compartments.
Belgian truck hit - scene on shut m way pic.twitter.com/l13IsFS3w0— alex thomson (@alextomo) November 26, 2015
“It’s a war out there and we’re in the middle,” truck driver Jamie Baker told the news website Breitbart.
A unit of the riot police force, now garrisoned in Calais, was dispatched, to cordon off the area, and push back the potential stowaways. Access to the port, which also serves as the entryway into the Eurotunnel, was closed.
As shielded officers pushed the migrants back into the nearby camp, known as the Jungle, which accommodates at least 4,500 people, its inhabitants began to throw rocks. Police responded by lobbing tear gas grenades inside.
"Once again, we can only note that public order was seriously undermined for several hours," said center-right Calais mayor Natacha Bouchart via Twitter. "If the military can participate in securing our capital, it must also do so for Calais, which is currently experiencing an emergency situation.”
Alors que les forces de police se sont trouvées en grave difficulté hier soir, je réitère mon appel à l’intervention de l’armée à #Calais— Natacha BOUCHART (@NatachaBouchart) November 26, 2015
Bouchart, who has previously requested army assistance, also called for the arrests of activists from the anarchist movement No Borders, who she says have been inciting migrants to engage in violent behavior.
A host of charities working at the camp, which has doubled in size over the past two months, as more asylum seekers arrive from the Middle East, Africa, and Afghanistan, report deteriorating conditions.
“The situations in Calais and at camps around northern France are all at crisis point,” Elaine Ortiz, the founder of the Hummingbird Project, which runs soup kitchens and medical aid points, told the Independent. “There has been lots of bad weather. The tents, if those inside are lucky to have one, are not holding up because the camp is becoming a swamp.”
There has been an outbreak of the infectious skin disease scabies at the Jungle, and Medecins du Monde, another charity, says that migrants broke into its portable clinic and kitchen.
Earlier this week, the French legal body, the Council of State, ordered local authorities “to begin installing more water taps, toilets and rubbish collection services [at the Jungle], to clean the site and to allow access for emergency services” within one week.