Clashes erupted between police and migrants of a makeshift camp near the northern French port of Calais overnight Tuesday as police bolstered security in response to a third consecutive night of unrest.
Riot police used teargas and watercannon to end an hour-long standoff with the migrants, who started by throwing objects and insults at officers before lighting a wooden pallet on fire.
“Two-hundred-and-fifty police officers, of which the majority were CRS (riot police), were mobilised Tuesday” to end the disturbances around the migrant camp, dubbed the “jungle” in France, said interior ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet.
The makeshift camp dubbed the “jungle” has been the scene of growing unrest in recent weeks as thousands remain in wait for the opportunity to smuggle themselves across the Channel into Britain.
Local government official Fabienne Buccio said that in a “new phenomenon” the residents living near the camp, dubbed the “Jungle”, had witnessed the violence and experienced theft and other damage.
“We are going to deploy security forces so they are visible to the local community,” said Buccio.
“There have not been physical confrontations but the migrants have often entered the property of community members to get objects to block trucks on the ring-road.”
Buccio speculated that the rise in violence was due to the migrants’ frustration at being blocked from reaching Britain, their ultimate goal.
The migrant population in Calais doubled between June and August as Europe struggles with its worst refugee crisis since World War II.
The Calais migrant situation has strained tensions between Britain and France and is also a political hot potato ahead of regional elections in December.
However the number of migrants involved remains tiny compared to those in other countries such as Germany which is expected to receive up to a million asylum requests this year.