Despite the harsh weather conditions, migrants are still arriving at the site of the notorious Sangatte refugee camp in Calais.
French authorities closed down and demolished “The Jungle” in September, but there are still over 100 people camped in the area – hoping to reach the UK some day. And more are arriving everyday, especially men from Afghanistan.
One Calais resident described the refugee situation: “They are staying in shanties, built from pallets and plastics. They are gathering here, simply trying to survive.”
Vanessa Saenen, from the UN Refugee Organisation said: “About 230 people have asked for asylum since June. Because the procedure takes time, we don’t know how many of them will get protection here in the end. There are also people who left for other countries, like Belgium and Scandinavia, but a lot of them have come back and are living in miserable conditions.”
Calais is not the only place where the migrants have set up camp. Many are waiting hopefully in the Belgian port of Ostend. Since the closure of “The Jungle” Ostend has seen a dramatic increase in the number of refugees.
A migrant camping in Ostend said: “It is easier here. In Calais, the police are very tough. You are sent back to Morocco immediately. In the Netherlands, you can end up in jail. Here in Ostend, there’s no problem. The police don’t interfere.”
And at the Belgian port of Zeebrugge, many Afghan, Indian and Iraqi refugees are also waiting for their chance to reach the UK.