Europe

Calais migrants: Clashes ahead of 'Jungle' closure

Migrants clash with French riot police as they attack the fence next to the makeshift Jungle camp in Calais (22 October 2016) Image copyright EPA
Image caption There were clashes just outside the Jungle on Saturday night

French police have clashed with migrants outside the port of Calais with bottles thrown at officers at the camp known as the Jungle, which is scheduled to be closed on Monday.

Police fired smoke grenades to try to restore order.

Thousands of leaflets are to be distributed at the camp telling people they must leave before it is bulldozed.

Meanwhile the first unaccompanied children from the camp without family ties to the UK have arrived in Britain.

They came under the "Dubs amendment" rules which allow particularly vulnerable children - such as girls and those under 13 - refuge in the UK.

It followed the first wave of 39 boys on Monday - who all had UK relatives.

Image copyright AP
Image caption A small group of migrants near the Jungle threw stones at police
Image copyright AFP
Image caption The authorities say they do not want to use force, but if there are migrants who refuse to leave the camp, they may have to intervene
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Police fired tear gas during the migrants' protest on Saturday evening

As many as 10,000 people are estimated to live in the camp. Most will be resettled in other centres across France from Monday.

A group of about 50 migrants was reported on Saturday to have thrown stones at French police. They responded with tear gas and baton charges.

There is concern among charities that some migrants will refuse to go to reception centres elsewhere in France, because they still want to get to the UK.

The BBC's Simon Jones in Calais says that amid the mud and squalor of the Jungle, there is a growing realisation among migrants who call the camp their home that their time there is almost up.

About 10,000 leaflets will be distributed by the French authorities, telling people to report from Sunday morning to a hangar, where they will be taken by bus to other parts of France and given the opportunity to claim asylum.

One French association, L'Auberge des Migrants, believes up to 2,000 of the estimated 10,000 people in the camp may refuse to go, because they want to stay in Calais and be closer to their dream of getting to the UK.

The authorities say they do not want to use force, but if there are migrants who refuse to leave the camp, they may have to intervene.

Citizens UK volunteer Esmat Jeraj told the BBC that the children arriving in the UK are being treated sensitively.

"Understandably some of them are quite reluctant to talk about their experiences," she said, "they've obviously been through hell and back."


What is the 'Jungle'?

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The Jungle camp is close to the main road to Calais port
  • The "Jungle" camp is near the port of Calais, and close to the 31-mile Channel Tunnel
  • Officially, about 7,000 migrants live in the camp - humanitarian groups say the number is closer to 10,000
  • Despite an increasing population, the camp's size was halved earlier this year
  • But the camp's population has continued to rise, and reports of violence have increased
  • Many migrants attempt to hide themselves in cargo vehicles entering the Channel Tunnel
  • The area has been hit by protests from both locals and truck operators

The Jungle has played host to scenes of both filth and of violence, as migrants, mainly from Africa and the Middle East, attempt to board lorries bound for the UK, clashing with drivers and police in the process.

A UK-funded wall 1km (0.6 miles) long is being built along the main road to the port in an attempt to deter would-be stowaways. The UK government has not confirmed the cost, but it is reported to have contributed about £1.9m (€2.2m).

Work on the wall, which began last week, is due to be finished by the end of the year.