Facing partial eviction, migrants scramble in Calais′ ″Jungle″
French officials have called for a buffer zone to be cleared between a road leading to the Eurotunnel and the ″Jungle″ refugee camp, causing residents to scramble to save their dwellings. By Diego Cupolo
The relocation effort: independent volunteers have been helping Calais residents move their homes after French authorities called for a 100-metre buffer zone to be cleared around a highway adjacent to the camp. "We hope to let them keep their dignity and whatever self respect they still have after being stuck in this dump," said a volunteer who wanted to remain anonymous
24-hour police presence: pictured above, the highway leads to the Eurotunnel, where asylum-seekers try to jump on lorries heading for England. There's heavy police presence in the area and many who attempt the journey are caught, but remain undeterred. Mohammed Shakh, a 21-year-old Syrian said, "Plan A is truck to England. Plan B is train to England. Plan C is boat to England"
By any means necessary: with the initial Thursday deadline already passed, the exact date for clearing the buffer zone remains unknown. Volunteers have been rushing to move makeshift homes by any means necessary, and some believe their efforts have so far warded off bulldozers. By Friday, nearly 100 existing shelters had been relocated in the camp and 40 new homes constructed away from the highway
Clearing more than brush: members of Care4Calais have been clearing areas of thorny shrubs, garbage and often times, human waste, in effort to make space for new homes. "I received so much hospitality when I lived on Afghanistan's doorstep and I want to show them that same level of respect and hospitality now that they've come to my doorstep," said Care4Calais volunteer Ruth Boggiuth
Holding out, peacefully: meanwhile, some refugees living in the demolition area continue living in their shelters. Approximately, 1,500 of 4,500 camp inhabitants will be affected by the new buffer zone. "I'm not moving my house," said Saifullah Barati, an Afghan who has spent four months in Calais. "If the police want to move it, they can do it. I'm not going to fight them"
Container camp: the French government is currently building a camp next to Calais, which is expected to house about 2,000 people, but many asylum-seekers said they would not move in because entry requires their fingerprints to be recorded by authorities – a measure they fear will limit their residence options in Europe and force them to stay in France
French resistance: "We see how France treats us," said Mohammed Shakh, a Syrian refugee, while speaking inside his shelter. "They think we are stupid and we will give them fingerprints to stay in the new camp. It is like a jail there. They won't let us leave after we enter and I never want to live in this country"
Tensions rising: the eviction notice along with increased police presence has resulted in more violence inside the camp, according to MSF engineer Maud Le Quintrec. After scabies, the second most common reason for doctor visits in Calais is now due to injuries obtained during fights among refugees and nightly clashes with riot police, Le Quintrec said
The problem is spreading: "People realise that the government might begin to slowly reduce the size of Calais, so they are moving out and creating new 'jungles' in other places." Le Quintrec said, noting 120 inhabitants from Calais recently settled a new camp in Belgium. "Basically, some people are responding by leaving and the problem is spreading to different areas"