French soldiers investigated for ‘joyriding’ through Calais migrant camp

Migrants camping in the muddy field helped the troops free the army jeep

Migrants keep themselves warm next to a fire at camp in Calais, northern France. (Photo by FRANCOIS LO PRESTI  /  AFP)
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A video showing French soldiers doing doughnuts and skids in an army jeep while patrolling a migrant camp in Calais has sparked outrage.

The troops were condemned for performing the stunt “to cheer themselves up” in front of dozens of migrants camped out in a field in northern France.

The clip, which quickly went viral after being posted on Twitter, shows a jeep being driven at speed through puddles and skidding through muddy terrain.

After putting it into reverse, the driver tries to spin the 4x4 around but it can be seen grinding to a sudden halt after getting stuck in the mud.

Photos from the scene showed migrants wearing winter coats, hats and gloves stepping in to help free the patrol vehicle.

A group can be seen using ropes tied to the roof to pull the entrenched jeep out while soldiers try to free a back wheel.

Armed police could be seen in the background looking on.

Another video captured after the incident shows soldiers attaching ropes to the jeep from an army lorry.

The soldiers were conducting an anti-terrorist patrol at the camp in Calais when they decided to do doughnuts in the mud, according to reports.

The European Council on Refugees and Exiles called the stunt “wrong on so many levels”.

L'Auberge des Migrants, a group providing help to migrants and refugees in Calais, said after entering the camp to patrol it, the troops decided “without any embarrassment to play Fast and Furious”.

Calais Solidarity, another group campaigning for migrants, accused the troops of “joyriding through a refugee camp”. It said the stunt took place hours after volunteers distributing food to migrants at the camp were “harassed” by French police.

Sebastien Nadot, a member of President Emmanuel Macron’s party, condemned the soldiers’ actions.

He tweeted the clip to his followers, captioning it: “Soldiers in need of adventure come to cheer themselves up, in a way of provocation, near migrants who camp there miserably.

“The final stalemate completes the allegory of power in place and its unacceptable migration policy.”

French people hit out at the army after the footage emerged, with one man saying migrants fearing in fear for their lives and freedoms are facing officials “who have fun like morons”.

Another person said “they all disgust me”, referring to the soldiers involved.

Herve Grandjean, spokesman for the French army, said the troops' conduct was "totally at odds with the values of our armed forces".

The army is reportedly conducting an investigation into the incident.

Despite the deaths of 27 migrants in the Channel last month, boats continue to leave French beaches every day for England’s south-east coast.

Updated: December 20, 2021, 11:31 AM