Far-left activists accused by France of ‘exploiting’ Calais migrants
Far-left activists from Britain and elsewhere are giving migrants walkie-talkies and chainsaws to get through the police lines and fencing that protect the port and rail terminal at Calais.
French officers say that the “quasi-military tactics” are not so much designed to ensure that migrants reach the UK as to heighten tensions in Calais and further a political agenda.
Charity workers say that most of the 4000 migrants there want nothing to do with the activists. No more than 300 of them are under their control, a police source said, yet they regularly confront riot police.
Police say that among the volunteers are several dozen activists seeking to promote the philosophy of No Borders. They come from Britain, France, Belgium, Italy and elsewhere and their aim, stated on a far-left French website, is to “highlight the situation in Calais and defy the authorities on the ground”.
Police say that it is almost impossible to distinguish them from bona fide volunteers. “The activists try to curry favour by putting up shelters and distributing food,” a police union spokesman, Gilles Debove, said. “But it is done so that they can manipulate the migrants.
He said that the No Borders activists had gained influence over “200 to 300 migrants — mainly those aged between 17 and 25 and of nervous character”.
In recent months these migrants have fought nightly battles with riot police to block traffic so that they can stow away in lorries. Police cleared a 100m wide strip of land to create a buffer between the camp and the road. The tactics are changing as a result, with migrants dividing into groups to make co-ordinated attacks on the port or Eurotunnel’s site. Each group has a leader with a telephone or a walkie-talkie, police say.
One group will cut through the fence around the terminal and when police move to stop it a second will be told to make a similar move against the port.
“It is simultaneous and there is no doubt who is organising it,” Mr Debove said. He said that the activists had bought chainsaws for the migrants.
“That doesn’t mean the migrants get to Britain. Hardly any do now. But that’s not what these activists want. What they want is to keep up the political pressure.