Following a long battle, a French judge has approved plans to evict hundreds of migrants and demolish a large proportion of the notorious “Jungle” camp in the northern French port of Calais.
Despondent locals have endured years of disruptions, protests, and even riots. Just last night gangs of migrants went on a “victory lap” of the town chanting “UK! UK!” (footage below) as it looked as if the demolition plans would be dropped. They were eventually dispersed with tear gas.
Now, over a thousand migrants are certain to be evicted from the southern side of the camp. The northern side, meanwhile, containing shops, a mosque, and the new permanent accommodation built by the authorities, will be spared.
“The order is applicable, except for common social areas,” a spokesman for the Pas-de-Calais prefect’s office told Reuters. “So it won’t be applicable to places such as schools, a theater and a legal office.”
Hard left activists operating in the camp had fought the court to save the camp, where many migrants choose to stay so they can be near to the entrance to the Channel Tunnel.
“We are devastated to announce that this afternoon the court ruled against us and have upheld the decision to demolish the Southern section of the ‘Jungle’. We will be appealing this decision immediately”, the Help Refugees groups said in a statement on Facebook.
Adding: “We are shocked that this verdict will strip refugees of their homes once again without adequate alternative provisions.
“Our census revealed 3455 refugees will be evicted and it was stated in court that only 1156 alternative places are currently available across France”.
“I am satisfied, I was anxious,” said Natascha Bouchart, the Calais mayor, adding that the evacuation process would be “gradual”. Calais town authorities have said that no one will be evacuated from the “Jungle” by force.
“We are going to continue the work undertaken with the (migrants’) associations to persuade the migrants to leave so that they have a roof over their heads,” said an official, who asked not to be named.