Migrants jailed as 'Jungle' demolition looms

2016-02-23 07:09
A refugee makes a fire inside the migrants camp near Calais. (Markus Schreiber, AP)

A refugee makes a fire inside the migrants camp near Calais. (Markus Schreiber, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Calais - Six migrants were given a month in prison on Monday for occupying a ferry in northern France, while charities warned thousands could be affected by plans to evict half of the "Jungle" refugee camp in Calais.

The migrants from Afghanistan, Sudan and Syria were convicted alongside two activists, who received fines from the court in Boulogne-sur-Mer for their part in a protest last month calling for Britain to allow asylum seekers in.

Towards the end of the protest in the northern port of Calais, about 150 people broke through a barrier around the port and about a third managed to board the "Spirit of Britain" ferry. Several hours later, police removed them, arresting 24 migrants and 11 members of the No Borders activist group.

The convictions came a day before a deadline of 19:00 GMT on Tuesday set by local authorities for people in the southern half of the Jungle migrant camp to leave.

The local government says the demolition will affect between 800 and 1 000 residents of the grim camp, which stands on a former toxic waste dump on the outskirts of Calais.

It estimates there are currently about 3 700 people living there, all of whom are hoping to sneak aboard lorries heading for Britain.

But according to charities working in the camp, who say they have done a census, there are around 3 450 people living in the southern part - including 300 unaccompanied children.

The demolition "risks displacing migrants to other camps in the region, which is only moving the problem somewhere else", said Vincent De Coninck, a volunteer with Caritas.

Conditions in other camps along the northern French coast are even more dire than those in the Jungle.

'By persuasion' 

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the eviction would be done "progressively, by persuasion and with respect for people's dignity".

But several charities are challenging the eviction order, and a judge is due to visit the Jungle on Tuesday before giving a verdict later in the day.

"I don't have anywhere else to go," said John, a 28-year-old Sudanese migrant in the camp.

"We don't want to leave Calais because we don't want to get further away from England, which is still our goal."

His friend Ahmed added: "We know we won't be here forever, thank God, but for the moment we don't have any choice."

Local government head Fabienne Buccio said on Sunday that "everything will be done" to avoid the use of force in clearing the camp.

"The dismantling should start on Wednesday and security forces will not be used if everyone plays their part," Buccio said.

In an earlier statement, the Calais town hall claimed it was acting in response to "abuses" committed by migrants that had led to "an aggravated level of tension" in recent weeks.

It said camp residents were throwing stones and other projectiles at lorries and security forces on a daily basis, but also condemned members of far-right groups who loiter outside the Jungle to beat up migrants.

Celebrity support 

The French authorities have been gradually trying to shut down the Jungle, encouraging residents to head for proper centres elsewhere in France.

However, many of the residents have family or community ties to Britain and are reluctant to give up their dream of crossing the Channel.

A campaign spearheaded by celebrities such as actors Jude Law and Benedict Cumberbatch has called on the British government to let children from the camp be reunited with families in Britain and take responsibility for the "humanitarian crisis" in the Jungle.

Those being pushed out of the camp can go to one of around 100 accommodation centres elsewhere in France, or into refitted shipping containers set up nearby.

The containers have not proved popular with migrants, who say they lack communal spaces and restrict their movements, while local charities say they fail to meet international standards.

Read more on:    france  |  migrants

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24


And the Paws24 and Hill's winners are ...

Find out who the winners of our Paws24 pet pics and Q&a competitions are...



Keep your family and pets safe from rabies
5 scientific benefits of owning a cat
Why we love cats
8 great natural remedies for your pet
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.