As reported in French at RFI (translated to English) the migrant camp of Grande-Synthe in Northern France housing around 1500 mainly Iraqi Kurds; was ravaged by a fire leaving little standing last Monday night (April 10).
At least a dozen were wounded that night.
The fires were started after a brawl between Afghans and Kurds, who in the afternoon wounded six with knives. The police intervened, and then the fighting resumed in the middle of the evening with the first fires, and the more the police and firemen advanced, the more wooden chalets caught fire. The town hall, the State and the witnesses suggest a criminal origin of those involved.
Sheet metal roofs, heating systems and bicycles fully burned. The only thing still standing are the community kitchen and the information point. Three quarters of the chalets built a little more than a year ago were burnt down.
The prefect of the North Michel Lalande went to the scene.
“It is the end of the camp of Linère.”
“I do not know how we will be able to put the camp back on the ground already considering what will be necessary to remove as gravas. And infrastructure has been affected, like electricity.”
“I think wooden shacks are probably not the best idea we’ve ever had for a humanitarian camp.”
(Said to the effect of in English)
About sixty firefighters were mobilized and a company of CRS came in reinforcement. According to the Northern Fire and Rescue Center (Codis), the fire, which involves about twenty wooden chalets that can accommodate up to four people, caused at least ten wounded.
The flames were visible for several kilometers around. Gymnasiums and municipal halls, were opened to house more than 400 of the 1,500 from the camp where they stayed the night. A crisis meeting is planned around the prefect and the mayor of Grande-Synthe to decide on the follow-up.
“We are now accommodating all the people who are likely to want to be housed. We can accommodate a few hundred people for now, waiting for the meeting with the prefect and the sub-prefect to assess the damage.”
Said a representative of the city of Grande Synthe.
The representatives of the State repeat that the solution according to them, are the reception centers and guidance throughout France.
“There is room in the CAD for those who want to go. For weeks, every day, there are marauders of the French Immigration Office who are deploying. And all the means have been mobilized for many weeks to bring an offer of care that, unfortunately, too much did not want to accept.”
The camp was built by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and opened in March 2016. According to several accounts, the discord was due to the increase in the number of Afghans after the dismantling of the Calais jungle at the end of October 2016. The Afghans were dissatisfied with being parked in the collective kitchens while the Kurds were sleeping in Cottages whose number has not been increased.
The Linière camp, which is known to be run by Iraqi Kurdish smugglers, has been the scene of several serious incidents in recent months, requiring police to be used. A respite of six months had been obtained a few weeks ago by the city, while the state finds solutions for each of the refugees. The associations are expecting a wave of evictions, especially for refugees who have already left their mark in another European country.
Archive ~ RFI ~ 13 April 2017