Four refugees are in critical condition after being shot during a brawl between Eritrean and Afghan refugees in the northern French port city of Calais on Thursday.

Migrants wait to register outside a processing center in the makeshift migrant camp known as
Migrants wait to register outside a processing center in the makeshift migrant camp known as "the jungle" near Calais, northern France, October 27, 2016. (AP Archive)

Police reinforcements arrived on Friday in the French port city of Calais after clashes among refugees left 22 people injured, with the Interior Minister Gerard Collomb warning of more potential violence among those seeking to cross into Britain.

Collomb told reporters in Calais that five of the victims were injured by gunfire in Thursday's fight, blaming human traffickers and "totally organised" gangs. 

Police were seeking a shooting suspect, but have made no arrests, he said.

Most serious clash

Firearms are rare among refugees and migrants, and the shootings were the most serious clash in recent times among refugees around Calais.

Two extra police units were arriving Friday, Collomb said. He said that while in the past such violence was spontaneous, it appears to be becoming more organised.

He said local authorities have dismantled six migrant trafficking networks already this year, compared to a total of 20 in 2017.

The prefecture of the Pas-de-Calais region said the gunfight was the culmination of a showdown between Afghan and Eritreans, fighting each other with sticks and stones, after a meal distribution near the Calais hospital.

In a second confrontation, up to 200 Eritrean refugees cornered 30 Afghans near the former site of a makeshift migrant camp that housed thousands of people before it was evacuated and destroyed in 2016.

Collomb said the government will start meal distribution outside of Calais in the coming two weeks, instead of leaving it to aid groups, in an effort to stop feeding spots from becoming fixed nodes of tension.

Insisting that "very few" people successfully sneak across to Britain, Collomb said, "if you want to go to Britain, you shouldn't go to Calais."

Collomb also called for long-term solutions to speed up asylum decisions and deport economic migrants with no right to refugee status.

Tensions have been high in Calais since the camp was destroyed. More than 1,130 French security forces have been posted in Calais to keep refugees or migrants out of the port and Eurotunnel and to stop them from setting up camps.

Source: AP