Makeshift camps grow af­ter Calais ‘jun­gle’ exit

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

REFUGEES left be­hind af­ter the de­mo­li­tion of France’s no­to­ri­ous Calais “jun­gle” faced a day of reck­on­ing af­ter spend­ing the night in an un­used part of the camp.

Around 100 refugees, in­clud­ing mi­nors, ended up be­ing al­lowed un­der po­lice es­cort yes­ter­day to sleep in shel­ters that re­mained stand­ing in the for­mer south­ern sec­tion of the slum that was mostly razed in March, a pre­lude to this week’s clear­ance op­er­a­tion.

Af­ter thou­sands were taken away on buses over the past two days, the camp next to the north­ern port of Calais was virtually de­serted on Thurs­day.

Aid work­ers, scram­bling to find a so­lu­tion, were given per­mis­sion to take about 100 mi­nors and adults to a small makeshift school in what was once the camp’s south­ern sec­tor, which was razed by the state in March.

Al Jazeera’s David Chater, re­port­ing from Paris, said other refugees had made their way to the France cap­i­tal and that tents around Stal­in­grad Square in the north­east of the cap­i­tal are spread­ing rapidly.

“The po­lice have tried to de­stroy the camp more than 20 times but it still keeps grow­ing, and the word is the refugees from Calais are on their way here,” he said, adding that fam­i­lies with babies and young chil­dren were seen liv­ing on the pave­ments in Paris.

Mean­while, scores were still look­ing for shel­ter or re­fus­ing to leave the squalid set­tle­ment in Calais that has be­come one of the most vis­i­ble sym­bols of Europe’s mi­grant cri­sis.

“You can’t say the op­er­a­tion is over when there are peo­ple left,” said Anne-Louise Coury, the Doc­tors With­out Borders co­or­di­na­tor in Calais. “The state still has a se­ri­ous obli­ga­tion to­wards mi­grants who are mi­nors.”

Calais Mayor Nat­acha Bouchart said claims of the “jun­gle’s” demise were “pre­ma­ture” and de­manded “guar­an­tees” that it would not spring up again, once the po­lice had left.

Calais has been a mag­net for mi­grants hop­ing to sneak across the Chan­nel for more than a decade, and many lo­cals fear new set­tle­ments will sim­ply spring up in the area af­ter the Jun­gle is razed.

La Vie Ac­tive, a gov­ern­ment-linked char­ity, said about a third of the camp had been razed by the end of Thurs­day, and top lo­cal of­fi­cial Fa­bi­enne Buc­cio said de­mo­li­tion op­er­a­tions would end on Mon­day.

Steve Bar­bet, spokesman for the pre­fec­ture, said refugees were seen get­ting out of cars in front of the reg­is­tra­tion cen­tre or ar­riv­ing at the Calais train sta­tion.

They joined Calais camp refugees who chose not to be re­lo­cated to other parts of France, some cling­ing to their dream of reach­ing Bri­tain by hop­ping on freight trucks cross­ing the English Chan­nel by ferry or the Euro­tun­nel train.

Many refugees waited un­til Wed­nes­day, the last day of the three-day evac­u­a­tion, to de­cide whether to take a bus to one of the 450 spe­cial cen­tres around France, in­creas­ing the chaos.

Mean­while, more than 5,200 refugees have died across the world since the be­gin­ning of 2016, says the In­ter­na­tional Or­gan­i­sa­tion for Mi­gra­tion (IOM).

The or­gan­i­sa­tion, which is based in Geneva, said yes­ter­day that of a to­tal of 5 238 deaths, 3 930 peo­ple died try­ing to cross the Mediter­ranean Sea by boat, in­di­cat­ing a 170-per­son in­crease com­pared to 2015.

On Wed­nes­day, the United Na­tions High Com­mis­sioner for Refugees (UNHCR) made a dif­fer­ent ac­count with more than 3 800 deaths in the Mediter­ranean since Jan­uary, also not­ing that it was a new record com­pared to 2015.

Over 280 asy­lum seek­ers try­ing to reach the Euro­pean Union died off the Libyan shores re­cently, ac­cord­ing to the IOM.

The EU said on Thurs­day it had be­gun train­ing the Libyan coast guard how to curb the in­flux of asy­lum seek­ers.

“To­day we are start­ing the train­ing of the Libyan coast guard in Op­er­a­tion Sophia which is a very im­por­tant step,” said the EU for­eign af­fairs chief, Federica Mogherini, as she ar­rived for a meet­ing with NATO de­fense min­is­ters in Brussels.

NATO Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Jens Stoltenberg said the West­ern mil­i­tary al­liance had just launched its own Op­er­a­tion Sea Guardian in the Mediter­ranean to help sup­port Op­er­a­tion Sophia.

The EU launched Op­er­a­tion Sophia last year af­ter hun­dreds of asy­lum seek­ers died when their rick­ety boats sank off south­ern Italy.

The cen­tral Mediter­ranean route has seen more asy­lum seek­ers risk their lives in re­cent months af­ter the EU reached an accord with Turkey in March to halt an in­flux of refugees cross­ing the Aegean to reach Europe.

Stoltenberg fur­ther said within two weeks ships and air­craft would be pro­vided by NATO al­lies to help back up Op­er­a­tion Sophia. — Al­jazeera-PressTV.

Refugees wait to dis­em­bark from a ship on Oc­to­ber 24, 2016, in Palermo, Italy. (Photo by AFP)

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