Fresh violence broke out close to the French northern border town of Calais yesterday as groups of UK-bound migrants set fire to an improvised barricade in the middle of a busy motorway.
The migrants set light to a large pile of wood they had dragged onto the A16 in Marck as part of a bid to stop lorries on their way to England and clamber aboard their trailers.
A spokesperson for the local prefecture said the barricade went up early on Thursday morning, but caused no disruption to traffic as police were able to clear it quickly.
Despite this, the spokesperson said it is worrying that migrants have returned to these methods, which were last seen before the closure of the notorious Jungle shantytown last October.
The news comes after various truck drivers passing through the region reported having bricks thrown at their windscreens and their tyres slashed.
In a statement issued towards the end of last month, Pauline Bastidon, of the UK Freight Transport Association, said: “There is a need for urgent action by the French government to ensure that the area is policed adequately, and to protect drivers transporting goods, so that trade can continue to flow freely between France and the UK.”
Earlier this week, police said clashes had broken out between rival groups of Eritrean and Ethiopian migrants in the Calais area. Detectives believe they were likely fighting over smuggling routes.
The violence came as a French official warned of a summer of chaos in northern France as thousands of migrants attempt to reach the UK.
In a letter to new Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, Xavier Bertrand wrote: “The situation has become worrying again. I’m regularly alerted by road hauliers who are seeing an upsurge in damage caused to their trucks.
“Every day residents, elected and business leaders express their concerns about the return of the migrants to Calais.”
Bertrand warned that French security forces will be unable to prevent migrants currently massing close to the coast from launching attempts to sneak into the UK via Calais’ main port and the Channel Tunnel.
Separately, two charities have accused French police of using excessive force when dealing with migrants and preventing aid groups form distributing food in the Calais area.
Reuters reports that Lucie Favry, from aid association Utopia 56, told reporters: “These last few days, in the mornings, security forces have been coming to remove the migrants.
“They gas their sleeping bags to make them unusable and they gas or put holes in water canteens.”
The charities said migrants face arrest in the middle of the night while attempting to get some sleep in woods around Calais.
“We notice and denounce manhunts, illegitimate police violence and the harassment of the refugees and the restrictions on the distribution of food,” the Times quotes the charities as saying.