Police in Calais have broken up a number of illegal camps, firing tear gas into the crowds. French authorities are unwilling to allow any illicit camps other than the ‘New Jungle’, which is currently home to around 3,000, but many migrants are unwilling to stay there fearing violence.
Around 400 people were moved on from makeshift encampments on Monday night as police broke up the dwellings using bulldozers. With nowhere to go, approximately 50 of those staged a sit-in at the port of Calais, accompanied by the ‘No Borders’ movement.
A local government source has told AFP that “any illegal settlement cannot remain and will result in evacuation,” but a spokeman for Medicins du Monde (Doctors of the World), “The Syrians refuse to go there because of the insecurity there.”
The original Jungle was set up following the closure of a Red Cross Reception Centre named Sangatte, which had been in operation between 1999 and 2002. The centre had quickly become overcrowded with migrants and prone to violent riots.
Since then, the Jungle, which has shifted site a number of times has been repeatedly raided and bulldozed by police and authorities desperate to see an end to the migrants using waste lands around Calais as a slum. Nonetheless, the migrants numbers keep growing, from 300 at the beginning of this year to over 3000 at the moment.
Earlier this month the European Union awarded France €5 million (£3.65 million) to upgrade the camp into a humanitarian refugee centre.
Most of the migrants use the encampment as a base while waiting to make it across the Channel to England. Despite a small local economy growing up featuring shops, a hairdressers and even restaurants, the camps are characterised by violent clashes. Women, who represent only 10 per cent of the camp’s population, stay out of sight for fear of being raped.
Consequently, there are a large number of other smaller camps situated around the Calais area.
Last night police fired tear gas and took three “No Border” militants into custody while driving the residents of one camp out of their makeshift homes.
A further two other camps, playing host to Syrians and African were also dismantled, while a third, mostly home to Eritreans, was bulldozed.
The displaced migrants initially tried to smuggle themselves onto lorries bound for England, but changed tactics when security was stepped up.