Migrants Drifting Back To Calais In Bid To Reach UK


Hundreds of migrants and refugees are trickling back across France to reform camps around Calais, in a renewed bid to make it to the UK.

Six informal camps, each housing hundreds of migrants with dozens more arriving each week, have sprung up around the northern French port, just two months after the French authorities bulldozed the Jungle camp.

The thousands of immigrants who had been living in the shanty town were dispersed across the country to regional reception centres in an operation which the authorities deemed a “success”.

But, disappointed with conditions in the centres and determined to gain entry to the UK, many are making the journey back to Calais to renew their efforts to stow away across the channel.

Julien Muller, volunteer for a small French charity called Terre d’Errance which supplies aid at the Norrent-Fontes camp, told the Independent: “There are more and more people coming back. This week there has been several dozen people arrive. I suppose it will grow more in the coming months.

“With the UK Government closing down its transfers of underage refugees to the UK, there have been a lot of minors coming back.

“There are people who are clearly underage and clearly have family in the UK, but they have been told that now it’s closed. Now they’re coming back to try make their own way.

“Adults are also coming back from centres in bigger numbers. Some wanted to stay in France, but they have been waiting for two months and they haven’t even been given the opportunity to apply for asylum. They’ve given up.”

Sue Clayton, a refugee advocate and professor at Goldsmith’s University who has visited the region described the scene at one of the camps: “It’s a little pocket of woods up a very narrow, single-track lane. You see it through the trees and it’s like a mini-Jungle.

“The shelters are put together with various bits of wood and tarpaulin — whatever they can grab. There is no support there. They’ve divided themselves up so there’s a men’s section and a women and children’s section.

“The authorities will find that more and more of these secret camps will pop up because these people are getting increasingly frustrated.”

She said the camp is located just over a mile from a lay-by on the Calais port road, where truck drivers often stop off before making the crossing.

“It’s where the deals are done, well away from the port. It’s a trafficker’s paradise. Everyone around this new camp is vulnerable to them.”

Shahajhan Khan, a Pakistanian migrant who claims to be 15 years old, has been living in a centre for children near the French-Swiss border, but plans to return to Calais as his application for asylum in the UK was turned down.

“They promised us they would take us to the UK but said we had to be patient. At this centre they treat us like donkeys,” Shahajhan said.

“We are living in a factory and we are eating expired bread. We have waited in these factories without eating properly and now they are saying we can’t go. It means we must go back to Calais.

“If they weren’t going to take us they should have told us clearly. We left the Jungle on the condition that we would go to the UK. We accepted these conditions just to go to the UK, and now they are saying we have to give up.

“I hope you will see another Jungle soon.”

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