Fire rav­ages ‘Jun­gle’ camp

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Fresh fires broke out yes­ter­day in the “Jun­gle” on the se­cond day of op­er­a­tions to dis­man­tle the squalid mi­grant camp in north­ern France, send­ing peo­ple flee­ing with their mea­gre be­long­ings. Huge clouds of black smoke bil­lowed over the sprawl­ing set­tle­ment near the port city of Calais, which the French au­thor­i­ties said they ex­pect to fin­ish clear­ing by the even­ing.

Scores of riot po­lice were massed on the out­skirts of the Jun­gle, where the flames de­stroyed many of the tents and makeshift shel­ters that had housed the thou­sands of mi­grants and refugees in­clud­ing chil­dren. “We have it within our means to close the wait­ing lines by this even­ing. After the last mi­grants are taken in hand, the lines will close,” se­nior lo­cal of­fi­cial Fa­bi­enne Bucco said. Mi­grants and of­fi­cials alike said the fires that blazed through the camp overnight and early Wed­nes­day were set de­lib­er­ately, while ex­plod­ing gas cylin­ders caused them to spread.

Po­lice said four mi­grants had been ar­rested on sus­pi­cion of ar­son. An Eritrean teenager named Yones said Afghans had started the fires. “They are an­gry be­cause the Jun­gle is fin­ished and they can­not go to Eng­land,” Yones said. Many mi­grants could be seen tak­ing self­ies with the flames in the back­ground. “You have to leave,” an aid worker shouted at some mi­grants. “You have these gas cylin­ders in your car­a­van, get them out!”Scores of peo­ple es­caped to an area just out­side the camp. Po­lice barred them from go­ing back in and they were seen on the road, some car­ry­ing back­packs and suit­cases.

Around half of the camp’s es­ti­mated pop­u­la­tion of 6,000 to 8,000 mi­grants have been trans­ferred out since Mon­day, board­ing buses to cen­ters around France. Nearly 800 un­ac­com­pa­nied mi­nors-whose fate has been a key cause of con­cern on both sides of the Chan­nel-have been moved to ship­ping con­tain­ers con­verted into tem­po­rary shel­ters in the Jun­gle, ac­cord­ing to the in­te­rior min­istry.

Mean­while, work­ers in or­ange over­alls ramped up de­mo­li­tion op­er­a­tions, tear­ing down tents and makeshift shel­ters at the law­less camp that has be­come a sym­bol of Europe’s mi­grant cri­sis. Fires broke out Tues­day within hours of the start of the de­mo­li­tion. A Syr­ian man was taken to hospi­tal with in­jured eardrums after a gas can­is­ter ex­ploded in the flames.

‘It’s very scary’

French In­te­rior Min­is­ter Bernard Cazeneuve said Tues­day that all mi­nors “with proven fam­ily links in Bri­tain” would even­tu­ally be trans­ferred there. He said Lon­don had com­mit­ted to re­view­ing all other cases where it was “in the child’s in­ter­est” to set­tle across the Chan­nel. Bri­tish in­te­rior min­is­ter Am­ber Rudd on Mon­day pledged to bring el­i­gi­ble chil­dren from France to Bri­tain “as quickly and as safely as pos­si­ble”, with­out spec­i­fy­ing num­bers. The head of Save the Chil­dren on Tues­day called for a smooth process to en­sure their safety. —AFP

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