France starts evacuation of refugees from notorious Calais camp

October 24, 2016 9:00 am
French authorities have started the evacuation of refugees from the notorious camp amid simmering tensions between police and residents of the slum-like facility known as “The Jungle.”
Refugee men and women, carrying suitcases and bundles of possessionsstarted arriving on Monday at the reception points, where they will be put on buses and transported for relocation to other centers across the country, AFP reported.
More than 1,200 police and officials were deployed in the northern port city to ensure calm in what Paris calls a “humanitarian,” during which some 6,000 to 8,000 refugees, more than 1,200 of them children, would be sent out.
Paris plans to completely close the camp by December.

A number of refugees wait to be processed at reception points in the Calais camp on October 24, 2016.

“Everybody living in the Calais jungle will have to leave in order to be sheltered in one of the French reception and counseling centers” said a letter distributed among the refugees.
However, refugees at Calais, who live in appalling conditions in tents and temporary shelters, say they want to stay at the camp until they can find a way to continue their journey to Britain.
Many of them are reluctant to register as refugees in as their preferred destination is the UK.
From the camp, located around the Channel Tunnel, the undersea passage into the UK, the refugees stow away on trucks heading for the United Kingdom.
“I try to stay in England but I don’t have money to go in England or to stay in France,” said a Sudanese refugee. “I think it is so hard for me, it is not easy …Only God can help me right now.”
A volunteer teacher at a school in the camp said the refugees are worried because they do not know where they will be sent.
Last night, police clashed with the refugees who were protesting against the closure of the camp. At least seven vans loaded with riot police, armed with tear gas, arrived on the scene.
Police fired rounds of tear gas canisters at them, prompting the angry protesters to throw rocks and other debris.
A number of buildings inside the camp were destroyed by fire, according to Sue Jex, head of operations for the charity Care 4 Calais.
The authorities dismantled the southern half of the refugee camp in February and March. Reports indicated that more than three quarters of refugees and asylum seekers had been subject to mistreatment at the hands of police during the operation.
Help Refugees, a UK charity for refugees, said in April that 129 unaccompanied people had gone missing from the camp shortly after police demolished the southern part of the camp.
Late last month, President Francois Hollande paid a visit to Calais and pledged to dismantle the camp.
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