Calais ‘Jungle’ eviction gets go-ahead

A woman pushes her children in a stroller on February 25, 2016 in the Jungle migrants and refugee camp in Calais, northern France.Image copyright

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The camp’s inhabitants hope to cross the Channel to reach Britain

The French government’s plan to clear part of the Calais migrant camp known as the “Jungle” has been approved by a court in Lille.

Authorities say around 1,000 migrants will be affected by the eviction plan for the southern part of the camp.

Aid agencies say the number of people involved is much higher.

Local officials said public areas such as places of worship or schools would not be cleared and said it would be a “humanitarian operation”.

Activists had asked the court to halt the evictions. Those living in the camp, mainly from the Middle East, Afghanistan and Africa, hope to cross the Channel to reach Britain.

Media captionClosure of part of the Calais camp will affect thousands of inhabitants

Calais Mayor Natacha Bouchart said the authorities were being cautious to avoid people squatting on the site. “We’re relieved by this announcement but we’re vigilant.”

Conditions in the camp are squalid and its sprawling presence has become a controversial issue in both France and the UK.

Belgium this week announced temporary controls on its border with France amid fears of an influx of migrants from the camp.

“It’s our express intention to avoid tent camps like Calais in our country,” Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon said.

France has described the Belgian move as “strange”. Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the very idea of Calais migrants heading for Belgium “doesn’t correspond to reality”.

The Jungle in numbers

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  • Total camp population is disputed – Calais officials say it houses 3,700, while Help Refugees puts it at 5,497
  • Figures for the southern half (facing immediate eviction threat) are estimated at either 800-1,000 or 3,455
  • There are 205 women and 651 children (423 unaccompanied), says Help Refugees
  • Local government’s long-term aim is to have no more than 2,000 migrants living in Calais, says its chief, Fabienne Buccio

Tea, rivalry and ambition at ‘Jungle hotel’

Jungle migrants prepare to move

Migrants resist relocation to containers

Authorities plan to relocate migrants to either heated containers nearby, or to accommodation elsewhere in France.

But many residents have told the BBC that they do not want to leave.

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