Paris recently announced plans to launch its first urban-based camps for asylum seekers before the end of the year. However, a very different story is going down in Calais, where France prepares to demolish the slum-like “Jungle” refugee camp on Monday. The Guardian notes how an atmosphere of fear currently runs though the camp, where nearly 7,000 refugees (including over 1000 children) reside while hoping to eventually make it to Britain. That number is down from an all-time high of 10,000 persons earlier this month.
French authorities made efforts to encourage the camp’s occupants to leave on their own accord, as the Calais camp has been plagued by unsafe and unsanitary conditions. However, this weekend saw heightened conflict between police and migrants with some structures within the camp being set ablaze. Riot police launched tear gas into the camp, and about 1000 officers were deployed on Sunday to assist in bussing out migrants when demolition begins. Plans are in place to protect children during the evacuation, and the refugees will be taken to other centers throughout the country:
Amid concerns for their safety, children will be taken to the camp’s converted shipping containers while the rest of the Jungle is dismantled, according to the French interior ministry. The migrants who currently live in the containers — which were being used as temporary accommodation instead of makeshift tents — will be evacuated to make room for them.
About 10,000 leaflets are being handed out by the French authorities, informing people about the plans for the clearance. They are being told report to a reception point and will then be taken to other parts of France and given the opportunity to claim asylum. There are 7,500 beds available in centres across France for the Calais migrants. Some 60 buses will be used to remove them from the camp.
About six months ago, the atmosphere at the Jungle worsened when authorities demolished one half of the camp. This only served to push the refugees closer together and compounded the safety and overcrowding concerns. So, France vowed to dismantle the Jungle, and the time has almost arrived.