Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Running battles between Ethiopians and Eritreans, a teenage girl killed

Their faces covered, a gang of Ethiopian youths marches towards a rival camp in Calais brandishing sticks and rocks.

As they come into sight, a group of Eritreans arm themselves and rush out to defend their territory.

But French riot police are on the scene within minutes. After firing tear gas from behind their shields they manage to drive the groups apart.

Yesterday’s clash was over almost as soon as it started – but it will happen again today. And tomorrow.


In the dune area of Calais, a small piece of land near the Channel Tunnel which is home to up to 2,000 migrants, violent clashes between rival ethnic groups have become an everyday occurrence.


Eritreans and Ethiopians fighting over various routes into the ferry port appeared to be the principal reason for the fights, a police spokesman said.


It is thought that rows with people-smugglers who charge up to £1,000 cash for passage to Britain have also contributed to the trouble.

Yesterday, one Ethiopian man, who asked not to be named, said that Eritrean people smugglers were charging money for access to coveted areas for sneaking aboard lorries.



‘They are trying to charge us 500 euro (£395) to get on a lorry and they will not let us wait in the good areas where the lorries are parked,’ he said. ‘It is not fair that one group of people get access and another don’t. They cannot keep it to themselves.’

After winning control of the situation, riot police went through the motions and frisked the young men, who are mostly in their 20s, recovering various knives, sticks and rocks.

The situation is becoming unbearable for local police who say that they are stretched to breaking point by the constant fights. They have demanded live ammunition rather than rubber bullets to defend themselves against the migrant gangs who they claim are becoming increasingly ‘violent’.


Yesterday’s clash involved at least 200 young men. ‘We struggled for six hours to stop them fighting last night [Monday] and today there are more disturbances,’ said police union spokesman Gilles Debove. He said that ten injured youths were taken to hospital.

Last summer, violent clashes between Eritrean and Sudanese migrants led to more than 70 people being injured.

Gangs of young men fought running battles with police who fired tear gas and brandished shields and batons in an attempt to disperse them. The disagreement was again over access to prized areas where it is easier to board lorries.


There was just one arrest yesterday. Officers confirmed it was not normal practice to round up migrants. Few have any papers and trying to process them over and over again becomes pointless.

The migrants will also conceal their identities because any asylum applications they make in Britain will be harmed because they did not attempt to claim asylum in France.

Just hours after the clash a 16-year-old Ethiopian girl was knocked over and killed on a busy Calais road yesterday as she tried to board a lorry to Britain.

Her death is the third in as many weeks and highlights the increasingly desperate plight of migrants who are willing risk their lives to cross the Channel.


The girl, named in camps as ‘Saba’, had made the perilous journey from Africa without her family and is believed to have been in Calais for several weeks.

The car that killed her was heading for Calais from Dunkirk and swerved to avoid a group of migrants ‘in what appeared to be a tragic accident’, said a police spokesman. No charges are likely.

Saba suffered internal injuries and died within a few hours of arriving in hospital.

A police spokesman said: ‘Incidents of migrants running along major roads are very common. The migrants put themselves in huge danger all the time.’
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