Help Refugees’ statement in response to clashes in Calais.

“We have always warned of the dangerous and violent potential of smuggling criminal gangs in Calais, and the destructive influence they hold over those in the region.

Yesterday’s clashes tragically show the true extent of the suffering these criminal gangs can cause, pitting communities against each other for gain, while displaced men, women and children in Calais are barely surviving in the most inhumane conditions.

There are currently 22 injured in hospital, reportedly including a 16 and 18 year old, while 4 people are fighting for their lives. The severity of the violence lead us to agree with the Interior Minister, who attributes the violence to smuggler gangs instigating it.

The destitution, desperation and fear of the authorities have allowed these tragic events to take place. They follow 3 deaths and 2 nearly fatal accidents in the last 2 months, showing the sheer hopelessness looming over everyone.

We also strongly denounce the Calais mayor’s accusations that volunteers and NGOs are in any way complicit to the clashes which have left many seriously injured. This damaging rhetoric taints the humanitarian imperative we follow and only increases the power these criminal gangs have to feed violence and despair.

As always we ask that the displaced population in Calais is treated with humanity. We hope that those injured recover quickly and quiet returns to Calais, for locals, refugees and aid workers alike.” Annie Gavrilescu, France Regional Manager for Help Refugees.