French court gives go-ahead to Jungle camp evictions

Published: Thursday 25th February 2016 by The News Editor

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A French court has ruled that mass evictions will go ahead at part of the Jungle camp in Calais of migrants and refugees intent on reaching Britain.

A judge in Lille agreed to a partial dismantlement of the camp’s southern area, apart from schools and places of worship, aid agencies said.

State authorities say up to 1,000 people will be affected by the plans to relocate them from the slum site to heated containers nearby or to centres around France.

But aid workers say the figure is likely to be much higher. The Help Refugees charity said its own analysis revealed there were 3,455 people living in the affected area.

And Save the Children said nearly 400 unaccompanied children who have fled war, poverty and persecution live in the cold, squalid, rat-infested area now set to be bulldozed.

For many of the approximately 4,000 people in the Jungle, getting past the miles of razor-topped fencing near the ports to reach Britain is their ultimate goal.

French state authorities last week gave migrants and refugees until 8pm local time (7pm GMT) on Tuesday to quit their homes but their eviction has been held up pending the ruling.

The plans to move people from part of the Jungle were announced by Prefect Fabienne Buccio, the top official in France’s northern Pas-de-Calais region.

Ms Buccio said this month: “It’s time to tell the migrants of Calais, who live in undignified conditions and give Calais an image that isn’t dignified either, that we have a solution for each of you.”

But aid agencies say there are not enough containers to house the thousands who would be displaced by the bulldozers.

Some migrants said they if they are evicted they would be forced to leave behind close-knit communities forged in the Jungle, with shops, schools and churches.

Mayor of Calais Natacha Bouchart said last week that the dismantling of the camp would keep migrants and refugees away from activists bent on causing disruption.

She said it was a “sensitive situation” that required “necessary firmness”. And she added the conditions endured at the Jungle were “unworthy of human nature”.

Aid workers fear mass eviction will result in the problems being shifted elsewhere, such as to the swamp-like Grande-Synthe camp along the northern French coast in Dunkirk.

Fearing an influx of migrants and refugees from Calais, Belgium announced it was reintroducing border checks with France to block any Jungle evictees.

Belgian interior minister Jan Jambon said it was temporarily suspending the Schengen agreement on free movement to deal with people leaving the camp – some 20 miles from its border.

Published: Thursday 25th February 2016 by The News Editor

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