Wednesday, November 29

French Police use tear gas and water cannons in violent clashes with British protesters in Calais Jungle



French police used tear gas and water cannons in violent clashes with migrants and British activists who attempted to hold a banned rally beside the squalid Jungle camp in Calais.

Demonstrators – including many British activists from migrant support groups – said they were expressing solidarity with the migrants.

The confrontation, the worst since February, lasted three hours police union official Gilles Debove reported 10 officers were hurt, including one who was hospitalised after activists hurled stones at them.

A photographer said he was also slightly injured from the stone-throwing and seven police vehicles were damaged.

Tensions mounted in the Jungle, set to be closed by winter, after a demonstration planned Saturday by a group working with migrants was banned by local authorities.

On Saturday afternoon, 200 people, mainly from the No Borders group and migrants gathered in front of the riot police on the outskirts of the camp, said Etienne Desplanques, an official of the Pas-de-Calais region.

Since the gathering was banned, police sought to push the protesters back inside the camp, he said.

The masked migrants and activists, many of them British, began throwing stones and other objects at police.

Riot police responded firing 700 tear gas grenades, Debove said, and also used a water cannon to disperse the protesters.

Some 200 additional police were sent to the area, officials said, and the situation had calmed down by early evening.

Regional official Vincent Berton said the demonstrators were throwing stones at police and the protest had been forbidden because ‘the situation is already tense’.

Saturday’s clashes were the worst since February 29 when operations began to dismantle the southern part of the ‘Jungle’ camo, leaving five people injured.

Between 7,000 and 10,000 migrants are currently living in the migrant camp, a launch-pad for people’s desperate attempts to stow away on lorries heading across the Channel to England.

French President Francois Hollande on Monday said the sprawling migrant camp in Calais would be totally dismantled by the end of this year under a plan to spread asylum seekers around the country.

President Hollande has pledged to close the Calais camp by the end of the year and transfer thousands of migrants around France while their asylum cases are examined.

The camp, with thousands of people living in crude and lawless conditions, has become a flashpoint in Europe’s migrant crisis, and a symbol of Hollande’s government’s failures to find a solution for those who converge here in hopes of getting to Britain.

Conservative candidates seeking to unseat Hollande in elections next year have visited Calais to call for a crackdown on the migrants.

Philippe Poutoux, presidential hopeful from the small, far-left New Anti-Capitalist Party, came to Calais on Saturday ‘to affirm the exact opposite.’

He called for emergency care for the migrants, and for ‘simple and natural solidarity toward these people who suffer and who are victims of slaughters, of wars.’

French president Francois Hollande has told Britain to play its part in resolving the migrant crisis after announcing the Calais ‘Jungle’ will be completely dismantled.

Hollande is on his first visit to Calais as president and will go to the notorious camp today where thousands of desperate migrants, mainly from Sudan and Afghanistan, want to go to Britain and try to stow away on lorries heading across the Channel.

Under pressure from the right wing, the French leader has stepped up his own pledge to combat illegal migration, promising to ‘completely dismantle’ the Jungle camp, home to 10,000 migrants.