(CALAIS, France) — Four people were shot and 18 others injured Thursday in clashes among dozens of migrants in the northern port city of Calais, according to French authorities.
The brawl broke out around 3 p.m. local time between migrants from Afghanistan and Eritrea, and gunshots ensued. The four migrants who were shot were transported to a local hospital. They remained hospitalized Friday, a spokesperson for the Pas-de-Calais prefecture told ABC News.
French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb arrived in Calais on Friday night to meet with local authorities in the aftermath of the fight. He praised the police officers who intervened in the brawl, noting that 84 officers have been wounded in Calais in the past two years.
Some 9,000 migrants lived in the infamous “Jungle” makeshift camp in Calais before authorities dismantled it in October 2016. Around 500 migrants still live in the area, according to authorities, though charity groups put the figure closer to 800.
French President Emmanuel Macron has made clear that he will not tolerate another such camp being constructed in Calais, which in recent years has hosted thousands of migrants attempting to gain access to the United Kingdom.
“In no case will we allow another ‘Jungle’ here,” Macron said in a speech during a visit to Calais last month.
Authorities routinely dismantle smaller camps built by migrants in the Calais area, and there have been reports from charity groups and migrants that abuse has occurred in the process. Police officers have allegedly used pepper spray on the migrants and confiscated their blankets, shoes and food — accusations which authorities have repeatedly denied.
The migrants have the option of going to reception centers where they can apply for asylum in Calais or elsewhere around the country. But many refuse to go to the centers and instead set up small camps near Calais, with hopes they’ll be able to use the port city as a gateway to cross the English Channel to the United Kingdom.
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