- Work begins to demolish the “Jungle”
- Inhabitants will be rehoused in centres across France
- Negotiations continue over fate of the most vulnerable
France will start removing migrants from the squalid, ramshackle camp known as the
Jungle at Calais on Monday.
French interior ministry officials expect it to be dismantled within the space of a week.
An estimated 10,000 migrants and refugees are sheltering at the camp, hoping to make it across the Channel to the UK.
MSF Sea (@MSF_Sea) October 23, 2016
Leaflets have been handed out at the camp advising the migrants living there that they will have to leave.
They will have to present themselves at a giant hangar where they will be separated
into families, adults, unaccompanied minors and vulnerable individuals including
elderly people and single women.
They will then be transported by bus to a network of 450 reception centres across
60 buses are expected to remove 3,000 people to other accommodation centres on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
They will then have medical checks and be given the option to apply for asylum, if they have not already done so.
Will there be police there?
Around 1,250 police and gendarmes will oversee the operation.
Any migrants who refuse to be moved on risk being arrested.
What about the more vulnerable ones?
Negotiations are said to be “advancing” over the fate of 1,300 unaccompanied children and youths living in the camp.
Britain has prioritised allowing entry to those with family ties in the UK.
This week, a small group of mostly Afghan teenagers were allowed to join relatives already in the country.
But France wants Britain to go further and honour a commitment it made to helping vulnerable child migrants in Europe.
AFP news agency (@AFP) October 23, 2016
POLITICO Europe (@POLITICOEurope) October 23, 2016
Concerns about safety and wellbeing
Campaigners and activists have joined forces to produce a letter detailing their “very serious worries” about the security and wellbeing of the people in the camp.
“We fear that the resources currently being deployed and the proposed responses are
insufficient to ensure the effective protection of the most vulnerable, notably
unaccompanied children,” the letter says.
Save the Children, the Refugee Council and the International Rescue Committee UK
have signed it, as well as 60 deputies and peers.
It also says:
- There is a lack of clear information from the French authorities
- All unaccompanied minors should be found accommodation before demolition starts
- A “safe zone” should be created in the camp during demolition
- Those eligible to join family in the UK should be identified
here's the transcript from the discussion about Calais children in HoC today https://t.co/lWOAGA3Tuk— Refugee Council (@refugeecouncil) October 21, 2016
A “symbol” and a “sore point”
With its improvised shacks and poor sanitation, the Jungle has become a symbol of
Europe’s failure to solve the ongoing migration crisis.
It has also become a sore point in relations between Britain and France.
Tensions between the two countries are increasing over the future of border security
as the UK prepares to leave the EU.
French conservative and front-runner in next year’s presidential election Alain Juppé
says he would scrap an agreement allowing British officials to check passports in
France and vice-versa.
In theory, this would make it easier for asylum-seekers to cross the Channel and force
Britain to deal with them on its own territory.
Alain Juppé calls for UK border to move from Calais to Kent https://t.co/xbZGFBzLtZ— The Guardian (@guardian) October 21, 2016
What they are saying
“It is an operation that carries risk,” – a French government official describes the plan to remove the migrants and distribute them to centres across France.
“We cannot accept making the selection on French territory of people that Britain does or does not want. It is up to Britain to do that job,” – centre-right presidential front-runner Alain Juppé.
“Once the demolition starts there are no second chances. If it results in a single child going missing, or forces them into the hands of smugglers and traffickers, then we will have failed them,” – Lily Capriani, Unicef UK Deputy Executive Director.
“Everybody here is vulnerable, what is important is that they are looked after. I don’t care if it is by France or the UK,” – Sue Jex, Care4Calais, BBC Politics Show 23.10.