The French jungle



Calais’ refugee camp –  Image courtesy of Libération – Philippe Huguen/AFP 

-Article by Alice Ferré

Earlier this September, French Minister of Interior Bernard Cazeneuve announced the dismantlement of the “Jungle,” a refugee camp located in the outbounds of the french city of Calais. This decision was followed by emergency interim proceedings of Lille’s administrative court and reinforced by the State Council. The dismantlement started on Monday, October 24; originally planned to last a few days, it took more than a week.

Policemen and volunteers started the evacuation of approximately 6486 immigrants. They are Afghans, Darfurians, Iraqis, Syrians, Eritreans, fleeing from war and misery, in search of a brighter future in Western Europe. They go through Douves from Calais’ port to reach shuttles for England. In fact, 95% of them want to leave for Great Britain, according to Terre d’Asile, a French non-profit organization.

“The Jungle” – an appellation coined from the Persian word “Jangal” meaning “forest,” since woods delimitate the camp – is located amidst disaffected buildings, old garbage dumps, and two chemical factories. For this reason, the European Union has classified the site as a Seveso zone – a high-risk zone that requires proportional surveillance. The camp had flourished out of the public’s sight since 2000 but has been more mediatized since 2010, owing to considerable floods of Syrian refugees. Insalubrity, poor security and living conditions of the camp explained the intervention, according to government officials backed by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).

From Monday to Wednesday, 5596 migrants have been moved, including 1215 adults and 133 “bambinos” (minors) on Wednesday only. Policemen secured the camp and volunteers led the relocation process. Adults will be relocated to nearby Culture and Orientation Resource centers, while minors will be sent to specialized centers and warehouses with makeshift schools. After this, all migrants will be sent and integrated into other French cities.
Meanwhile, others refuse to leave the camp, making the operation lasting twice as long as first expected. Even though French officials declared the camp was empty, dozens of “bambinos”  and hundred unaccompanied are still wandering.

According to the Secours Catholique, 2000 to 3000 refugees are still missing; many of them escaped police forces, afraid that they would take away their dreams to reach their promise land.


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