Police deployed to evacuate a migrant camp in the north of the country on 30 December were pelted with stones by migrants, who injured 16 officers with some requiring hospital care. Eventually, the camp was vacated three days later. One immigrant was taken into custody.
Eyewitnesses described the migrant camp in Calais as a war-stricken area after the French riot police (CRS) had made an attempt to evacuate it. The sixty-strong police force met with fierce resistance with about a hundred migrants attacking them with stones and other projectiles. At least fifteen policemen and gendarmes were injured in the one-hour clash, according to press reports.
Footage taken on the scene shows that some truck drivers, armed with metal pipes, headed towards the fence in a bid to help restore order, but the enraged migrants hurled objects at them.
The atrocity took place in the so-called Transmarck zone, the place where most migrants try to climb onto lorries or somehow get into vehicles on their way to England. The migrants attacked the police with unprecedented violence, throwing bags filled with rocks and stones at them.
All possible means of defence must be used against violent migrants, the UNSA Police trade union posted on Twitter.
After the incident, the prefect of Pas-de-Calais department issued a statement, in which he deeply condemned the extremely violent attack the migrants launched against the police deployed to eliminate the camp, and he assured the officers injured in the attack of his full support.
The 200 inhabitants of the illegal migrant camp were finally evacuated three days after the clash, on 2 January. Patrick Leleu, the deputy prosecutor of the town of Boulogne-sur-Mer, said the operation had two basic objectives: to conduct the evacuation, which failed due to the clashes on Thursday, and to arrest those responsible. Le Figaro wrote that so far one migrant who can be directly linked to the events of 30 December has been detained,
A migrant associations called l’Auberge des migrants and the local prefecture issued statements contradicting each other. The association claimed that the operation had repeatedly violated the rights of the immigrants, whereas Alain Castanier, secretary general of the county prefecture, condemned the misinformation of the associations assisting migrants and said that the action took place in an orderly manner, without violence on their part.
According to Le Figaro, one of the police officers is still in hospital with an open tibia fracture.