5 Aug 2014

On the scene as African migrants clash in Calais

Foreign Affairs Correspondent

There have been three serious rioting incidents in Calais in the last 24 hours. Last night 51 people were injured as immigrants attacked each other in the French port. Channel 4 News was there.

On Monday we filmed a pitched street battle between Sudanese and Eritrean immigrants (above).

In a disused car park, by the river in Calais, the queue for the outdoor soup kitchen had over a thousand people in it. The bulk of the crowd were Eritreans and Sudanese men.

Hundreds of migrants are currently living in camps across Calais, trying to get access to Britain illegally. French police have tried to break up the camps, but the migrants say they have no option but to stay.

Last night, a group of local charities started serving rice and stew at 6pm but the immigrants started arriving at 4pm. By 7.30pm everyone was fed and the fighting started.

Initially a lone police car with two officers tried to control the situation. It only started to die down when the riot police arrived about 20 minutes later. Tears gas and rubber bullets were fired.

Turf war

We spoke to a number of Eritrean immigrants to try to find out what the fighting was actually about. We were told it is a turf war over which group has access to the lorry parks around the port where the trucks park over night before boarding the ferry for Dover.

The Sudanese are becoming the largest group of immigrants in Calais. We were told they had laid claim to one of the big over night lorry parks. They were only allowing Sudanese immigrants over the fence to try to hide inside the lorries.

The street brawls were battles for access to a car park, access to a lorry, access to the UK.