Deliberate Fires in Calais “Jungle” Migrant Camp Increase Tensions


Courtesy Tribune News Service.

French government workers begin to dismantle the migrant/refugee camp at Calais known as “the Jungle”

Emily Martinez, Staff Reporter

There were dozens of huts and temporary structures set on fire overnight in the mainstreet leading to the most notorious of Europe’s migrant camps, known as “the Jungle” of Calais.  But no one is sure who set them.

The BBC’s Simon Jones, at the camp, said “it may have been a last act of defiance from migrants who did not want to leave and did not want to see their shelters taken down by the authorities.”

There was a London bus to come help children and women get out of the migrant camps. The camp is near the entrance of the 31-mile “Chunnel” (channel tunnel linking France and England) near Calais.

Local French residents said the Calais migrants have caused problems in the past with similar issues and believe not to be too hopeful in them or the movement.

French authorities began clearance on Monday and about 4,000 migrants out of some 7,000 were taken from the squalid camp to shelters around France.

Various news sources showed that the people of the camp feel their safety is in danger and want to completely flee to the safety of a different camp or residential area.

Camp resident Mahmoud al-Saleh told Agence France-Presse “There were several fires overnight. Every time one was put out, another would erupt. It was clearly intentional.” Another camp resident said, “The firefighters came late. For a long time it was just us, migrants and volunteers, fighting the fires.”

Many of the migrants seemed to believe they were being “burned out” by French government agents.  Most are refugees from various middle eastern countries like Syria and Iraq.

Workers started taking the huts and tents down that no one would be in, by hand with sledgehammers, because the image of using bulldozers might send the wrong message.

Days later 3,000 migrants were moved out on buses to centres spread across France. Meanwhile 1,000 unaccompanied minors stayed and were still given accommodations in the jungle.

Roughly 4,000 of the camp residents can be accounted for, but there were estimated to be 6,000-8,000 residents at the camp before the “clearance.” Local Calais residents indicate they’re scared that they will return and set up camp again even after it has been completely cleared.