The Jungle refugee camp, accommodating an estimated 12,000 inhabitants, is set to be demolished in the upcoming weeks, following repeated efforts to shut down the camp on part of the French government. The French president, François Hollande, has said that #refugees living at the camp will be moved to 140 different “reception centres” dotted across the country, meaning 12,000 #housing placements will need to be created to ensure every refugee is safely relocated. Recently, there has been mounting pressure and a rise in political tension between the UK and France as authorities dispute who is responsible for the destruction of the camp and the safety of its inhabitants.
The Jungle, which has been named and shamed for its horrific humanitarian conditions, has experienced ongoing heightened security, including a UK- funded wall to stop refugees reaching the ferry port and 24 hour armed police surrounding the A16 highway - #calais’s main road. However, France’s interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, has vowed that France will begin “gradually dismantling the refugee camp” and will press ahead “with the greatest determination,” according to regional newspaper Nord Littoral.
Volunteers fight for action
French and UK charities, such as Care4Calais and Calais Solidarity, are desperately fighting to ensure the 1000 refugee children living at the camp reach the UK, and are reunited with their families, before the man-made community is destroyed for good. While a group of 14 minors arrived in Britain from Calais earlier this week, hundreds are still living in the human wasteland at the UK boarder, some as young as only eight years old, without parents or legal guardians. The current attempt to demolish the camp is one of many. Less than six months ago, French police and authorities destroyed a large part of The Jungle, reportedly by setting refugee’s tents and shacks on fire, throwing tear gas, and attacking those who stood in their way. Volunteers working on ground argue there is a multitude of reasons as to why “shutting down” the camp won’t work.
Cécile Burton, former human resources manager of the Help Refugees Calais, believes that relocation and eviction of the Jungle is not a solution. Cécile said: “We find ourselves amidst the biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War. Figures are constantly being reported and everyone keeps talking about how it’s getting worse and our governments (both French and English) are playing dumb.” “They seem to believe if they make the jungle ‘disappear’ this will all go away. They do not have the means to compensate for the destruction of ten thousand homes – there isn’t nearly enough alternative accommodation,” she added. Completely reliant on charities and donations, refugees and volunteers living in the camp have created a man-made community which includes a library, learning centre, multiple kitchens, donation shelter, a youth club and legal help.
Fleeing war to live in hell
It can take up to six months to travel to refugee camps such as Calais from The Middle East, as migrants flee war zones such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Many refugees, including young teenagers, have lost their lives attempting to reach the UK, and others have died at the camp as temperatures drop below freezing in the winter months or they catch diseases from living in a human wasteland littered with rubbish and detritus.
Moreover, there have even been reports of angry locals breaking into the refugee’s tents at night and attacking them with knives and knuckle dusters, as well as claims of armed far-right militants taking refugee men into fields near the camp, stripping them naked, tying their hands behind their backs, and then taking it in turns to beat them.