After more than a year, the eviction of the Calais refugee camp known as ‘the Jungle’ began this morning.
The authorities have devised a system for registering camp residents according to their status, taking into consideration minors, family units, and people with vulnerabilities not covered by either of these categories (medical conditions etc). They have informed the associations that 60 buses, going to accommodation centres across France (called CAOs) will be provided today (3000 people), 45 on Tuesday (2400 people) and 40 on Wednesday (2000 people). If more buses are needed on subsequent days they say this can be arranged.
In addition to all those currently residing in the unofficial Calais camp, residents of the government-run container camp are also being required to leave and go to accommodation centres. As a temporary measure, the containers will be used as a processing centre for unaccompanied minors. The unaccompanied minors will be housed there and processed by French and/or British authorities.
The French authorities have confirmed that a group of 40 people will arrive tomorrow to begin manually dismantling the ‘Jungle’ camp. They say there will be no bulldozers tomorrow. They hope the process will be complete within a week.
Representatives from our team on the ground have met with community spokespeople to share all of this information to them so that they can disseminate it within their communities. Our teams will also spend the weekend distributing this information, aiming to ensure everyone knows what the process will be for the week ahead.
The camp will be closed to most during the clearing period. Large aid agencies operational in the camp are permitted to continue to operate and we will have a small core team present. Our team will be there to assist and support as people depart, if required.
Huge queues continue to build at the registration warehouse in Calais as the world’s media looks on (we are told there are over 500 journalists on site today). Meanwhile our friends at Refugee Info Bus tell us the first buses have started to leave for Burgundy. We hope they have the maps Refugee Info Bus (who we are so proud to support) handed out. Wishing all who are leaving safe travels for this next part of their journey. May they find home soon.
Photo: Hassan Akkad