France Dismantles Jungle Refugee Camp

Hira Rahman - 1A Nanotechnology
Posted on: November 5, 2016

French police officially began dismantling the infamous Jungle Refugee camp in the city of Calais in late October. The refugee camp had become a temporary home to over 9000 refugees, 82% of whom were trying to reach the UK.

The French government claims that the decision to close down the camp was due to humanitarian concerns brought on by the poor living conditions within the camp. The camp lacked proper sanitary and washing facilities, and many refugees were living in tents. According to a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesperson, “The Jungle site has been problematic for a number of years, and UNHCR has long recommended its closure. Living conditions are appalling, with the most basic shelter, inadequate hygiene facilities, poor security and a lack of basic services.”

About 2000 of the camp’s residents left voluntarily days before the camp was dismantled. Other refugees living in the camp were taken to reception centres throughout France, where they will have the opportunity to apply for asylum or face deportation. Although refugees living in the camp came from several different countries such as Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, and Syria, it is more likely for Syrian and Iraqi refugees to be granted asylum, although it’s not guaranteed.

The dismantling of the refugee camp has brought up many concerns about the hundreds of unaccompanied children who were living in the refugee camp.  According to various aid groups and the UNHCR, these children are at risk of exploitation, trafficking, and violence.

At this point, children are the only group of refugees from the camp permitted to remain in Calais. They will be housed in the camp’s converted shipping containers for the time being. The British government accepted 200 teenage refugees a week prior to the dismantling of the camp. All unaccompanied minors with proven family links in Britain will eventually be transferred there.