Refugee camp demolition in France’s Calais enters third day

After chaos broke out on Monday, demolition of French refugee camp continues in its third day

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

French workers on Monday began bulldozing half of the "Jungle" refugee camp in the port city of Calais that is used by thousands of refugees hoping to reach to the United Kingdom for a better future.

Calais refugee camp, home to hundreds of unaccompanied children, has attracted refugees who have escaped from wars as well as poverty and there is an estimate of around 3,000 refugees from Somalia, Eritrea as well as Syria living in camps near the northern French port.

The destruction of the southern half of the sprawling shantytown in the northern port city of Calais, where thousands of migrants and refugees have gathered in the hope of finding passage to England, has sparked often violent resistance from residents.

"You need to get out, the demolition is starting," police warned, banging on the side of the shacks in what has become France's biggest slum, as a bulldozer stood by.

Several shelters were burned down overnight, though no-one knows how the fires were started.

France wants the refugees, mostly fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and North Africa, to move into better accommodation and reception centres.

However, Jungle residents fear moving would take them further away from their goal of reaching Britain and restrict their movement.

The demolition will affect between 800 and 1,000 people, although charities working there say there are more than 3,450 people in the southern half of the camp, including 300 unaccompanied children, officials said.

Charity workers say some refugees carrying backpacks left the camp overnight.

"Who knows where they are going. It's impossible to know the level of fear and uncertainty they are experiencing at this point," said Tom Radcliffe of Help Refugees.

Some may have been heading for other camps along the northern French coast - at Dunkirk or Tetenghem, where conditions are even worse than those in the Jungle.

Police also began checking IDs at the entrance to the camp. Some activists and refugees were arrested.

"They were just trying to intimidate us. They weren't even really looking at our passports," said one young activist from Britain who, like others in her group, were unwilling to give her name or affiliation.

TRTWorld and agencies