Fire destroys migrant camp in France

A fire official walks through the wreckage of the Grande-Synthe migrant camp in northern France. A fire on Monday destroyed about 300 huts in which about 1500 people lived. Photo by Thibault Vandermersch/EPA

April 11 (UPI) — A fire destroyed an encampment which housed about 1,500 migrants at the Grande-Synthe Dunkirk camp in northern France, camp officials said.

At least 10 people were injured on Monday when the fire tore through about 300 closely packed huts housing mostly Afghan and Kurdish migrants. At least half the camp was destroyed, and at least 165 people were evacuated, authorities said. It began hours after French police were called to the camp to intervene is clashes between the two ethnic groups; six people sustained knife injuries in the fighting.

The camp, built by the Doctors Without Borders foundation and opened in 2016, has grown since the closure in October of a larger camp near the city of Calais and known as the Jungle, 25 miles away.

Those left homeless by the fire will be taken to emergency housing, Michel Lalande, prefect of France’s Nord region, said.

“There is nothing left but a heap of ashes. It will be impossible to put the huts back where they were before,” Lalande said.

Some migrants in the Grand-Synthe camp attempted to block area roads with trees and branches last week in an effort to stop traffic and climb aboard vehicles traveling through the tunnel under the English Channel to Britain.

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