Despite the French government’s attempts to dismantle the notorious Calais Jungle migrant camp, many migrants are returning to the area with the aim of getting to the UK.
Currently, police believe there are around 400 migrants who have returned to Calais and state every day about 15 more migrants arrive. The actual site of the former Calais Jungle migrant camp, which was demolished last year, is surrounded by fences and inaccessible. This leaves the migrants to sleep in other parts of the town such as the train station, Le Figaro reports.
Activists have already started helping migrants by handing them sleeping bags, food, and other supplies since December, but have ramped up efforts within the last month.
Gaël Manzi, who is a volunteer with pro-migrant group Utopia 56 told The Local, “There are many migrants who’ve been coming back to Calais since the beginning of January, and we’re seeing mostly minors.” Utopia 56 are the same group who help run the migrant camp in Dunkirk which banned anti-mass migration Front National leader and presidential candidate Marine Le Pen from entering the settlement.
“The migrants aren’t actually at the campsite, they’re a bit all over the place, at the railway station, in the city centre,” Manzi added and said the group works mostly at night under the cover of darkness to avoid having to deal with the police.
So far, the French government has refused to build any emergency accommodation for the migrants. Prefect Jean Aribaud and Jérôme Vignon, president of the National Observatory on Poverty and Social Exclusion, recommended last year the government erect an emergency shelter in the area.
“We proposed a minimal system: a small and very short emergency shelter in Calais, for about 20 people who would then have been transferred to a more distant transit centre with more places,” said Aribaud but noted the government likely rejected the plan so as not to attract migrants to return to the area.
At its peak, the Calais Jungle camp was home to over 8,000 migrants who attempted to use the camp as a staging ground to reach the UK. Aided by pro-migrant groups like Open Borders, the migrants attempted to sneak into the back of lorries, and in one incident rampaged through the town of Calais in an effort to sneak onto ferries heading for the UK.
The Jungle was also infamous for the number of sex attacks that occurred on female residents, female pro-migrant activists, and at least one journalist. In one case, an activist was told to not report being raped by a migrant in case it made other migrants look bad.