The migrant camp known as “the Jungle” is being demolished, even as Calais’ mayor warned the refugee crisis is not over.
Protestors and police clashed as orange jumpsuit-clad workers tore down makeshift shelters in the camp. But Calais Mayor Natacha Bouchart warned this will do little to resolve the refugee problem. “Migrants are continuing to arrive in Calais even today,” she said.
Thousands of refugees remained in the camp in late October, prompting workers to ensure dwellings were empty before dismantling them. Some, including children, lived in shipping containers within the camp even while it was being dismantled. Migrants’ possessions and bedding were hauled into dumping bins. Despite partial dismantlement of the camp earlier this year, refugees have continued to settle there in hopes of migrating to the United Kingdom.
One resident wrote, “Please do not destroy my home” in front of a tenement with a sleeping bag for a door.
An official with the French Interior Ministry said officers “might be forced to intervene” if they meet resistance during the demolition.
A symbol of Europe’s refugee crisis, the 2.5-square-mile area of squalor has become home to about 7,000 migrants from Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia and Sudan. It has also given rise to businesses such as restaurants, bars and hairstylists.
Migrants have been relocated to shelters throughout the country where they may face deportation or seek asylum. Hundreds of unaccompanied children have been taken to “provisional reception centers.”
According to Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), about 60 million people worldwide are fleeing persecution or conflict because of race, religion or nationality. About 15 million refugees have dispersed worldwide.
The organization works to provide psychological care, nutrition, obstetrical care, vaccinations and access to safe drinking water for refugees and other displaced peoples.
“What I see today is what I saw in 1991: desperate people who fled their war-torn country only to end up in a camp where living conditions are below what is humanly dignified,” said MSF Deputy Field Coordinator Abubakar Mohamed Mahamud.
Pray for a humane resolution to the worldwide refugee crisis.