Migrants have been moved out of an illegal camp near Calais known as ‘The Jungle 2’, leaving behind mountains of rubbish and detritus including burned out beer cans, filthy sleeping bags and discarded clothing. The cost of the clean-up operation is expected to run into thousands of pounds, whilst the estimated 2,000 migrants have been moved into a brand new purpose-built centre just half a mile away.
The migrants, all of whom are attempting to make the jump across the Channel, have been sleeping on the site, a former sports hall for factory workers for the past few years. It replaced the original ‘Jungle’, which was demolished in 2009 in the hope that the migrants would move on.
The original Jungle was itself set up after the demolition of the original Sangette, a refugee camp outside Calais, which had been the springboard for entry into the UK for up to 60,000 illegal migrants. In an effort to deal with the problem of illegal immigration the camp was dismantled in 2002 and the British border moved onto French soil. Still the migrants continued to come.
The jungle is notoriously brutal: in 2008 a British journalism student was raped there. Yet some current dwellers have refused to be move, arguing that it provided them with shelter. Tifa Hussan, a 28-year-old computer graduate from Sudan, who has lived at the site since December told the Daily Mail: “The police told us about a month ago that we all had to move to the new camp. Most people left within the last week, but I am going to stay. This is my home. I don’t want to move. They can beat me. I am not afraid of them.
“I want to go England and find a job. It is a good place. I have friends who have gone there and I want to join them.”
The migrants are being moved to a ‘New Sangette’, a refugee centre which provides beds, showers, toilets, a laundry service and medical facilities for migrant women. Men are only allowed in during the day time, but most have set up tents just outside the centre, on the dunes of the Calais coastline.
The new camp is just a few minutes walk from the main road where migrants daily attempt to climb aboard lorries bound for England unseen. Legal advice for migrants who want to apply for asylum in the UK will also be provided at the site, which will cost £6 million a year in total to run. Half of that money is being provided by a special grant from the EU which all member states, including Britain, will contribute to. The remaining £3 million is being borne by the French government.
Yesterday, workmen from the local municipality were still preparing the site, including building a brand new access road.
But the migrants are not happy. Zakir, a 32-year-old from Afghanistan, said: “No one wanted to move but the police want us all on one site so they can keep a close eye on us. This is not a good place. There is no drinking water or shelter from the wind. At least at our old camp we could keep out of the wind, were able to get water. We have nothing here.”
The French population is also unhappy with the situation, asking why the British are not doing more to deal with what they see as a British problem.
In an interview with the Council of Europe’s Journal, published on Monday, Natacha Bouchart, the Mayor of Calais slammed the UK for not getting fully involved in the European project and thus leaving the migrant problem to her city.
“A country cannot remain both in and out of Europe, creating problems but providing no compensation and no support to local authorities such as mine and others, which are left alone to assume huge responsibilities,” she said.
“The city of Calais has to deal with the problems caused by an EU country that has not adopted the EU rules contained in the Schengen agreement.”
“The UK is not really interested since border controls take place on French soil. It provides no support to the city of Calais, nor to the local population, and it leaves the mayor of Calais to manage the problem without financial assistance. It’s truly an enormous responsibility and hugely difficult for me personally as mayor of a town of 75,000 inhabitants,” she added.
Bouchart has previously attacked Britain for being a soft touch when it comes to immigration, giving the impression that the UK is “an El Dorado” for immigrants. She renewed her attack in the interview, saying “There are no ID cards. They can easily find work outside the formal economy, which is not really controlled. They can get social welfare support that doesn’t exist in other countries.”
Her deputy mayor Philippe Mignonet has in the past called for the border to be moved back to the UK as the ultimate destination of the migrants. Last August he said “We are suffering in Calais. Calais is a city, not a country. We are suffering by having the English border on its territory.”
“We have to renegotiate the agreements whereby the English border is in Calais, so that the English border is moved back to Dover.
“That will not happen tomorrow, of course. But as a trial, David Cameron could move the border back to Dover to see what we are up against, and to see it is not so easy to tell us to do this or that.”
Yesterday he reiterated his wish to see the border moved back across the Channel, telling the Mail: “I speak to a lot of the migrants, and when I see them, I wish them good luck – I tell them I hope they succeed. They have a dream.
“I am fed up every morning to see the news, that it is Calais’ problem, that we are responsible. The English are hypocrites, their destination is not Calais, it’s England. The answer is to move the border back to England.”
“Why is David Cameron not coming to Calais? Why? I know he is a busy man but I am sure someone in his government has told him many times what is happening here.”