Jungle de Calais
Location in the city of Calais
(October 2016 (before closure))
|Census by Help Refugees|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+01)|
The Calais Jungle was a refugee and migrant encampment in the vicinity of Calais, France. It existed from January 2015 to October 2016. There had been other camps known as jungles in previous years, but this particular camp drew global media attention during the peak of the European migrant crisis in 2015, when its population grew rapidly.
By July 2015, this new jungle (known by the authorities as Camp de la Lande) had 3,000 inhabitants and it continued to grow. The French Government decided to evict it in 2016 and after several attempts, the camp was completely cleared in October 2016.
Location and name
The shanty town was located on the eastern edge of Calais, close to the Port of Calais and next to the N216 road. It was known by the French authorities as the Camp de la Lande and by inhabitants as the jungle. The use of the word 'jungle' is thought to derive from the Pashto word ‘dzjangal’ which means a forest or wood. The jungle was on wasteland in a Seveso zone on polluted land (regulated by Directive 82/501/EC). To solve this issue, government action was guided by the Treaty of Le Touquet of 4 February 2003, signed by former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, committing to halt illegal immigration to the United Kingdom via Calais.
A reception facility named Sangatte, opened and administered by the French Red Cross, was established near the Port of Calais in 1999 but rapidly became overcrowded. The original jungle had been established in the woods around the Port after Sangatte was closed in November 2002 by Nicolas Sarkozy, then the French Minister of the Interior.
In an April 2009 raid on a migrant camp, the French authorities had arrested 190 people and used bulldozers to destroy tents, but by July 2009 a new camp was established which the BBC estimated had 800 inhabitants. In a dawn raid on September 2009, the French authorities closed down a camp occupied by 700–800 migrants and detained 276 people. Conditions in these camps were poor, typically without proper sanitary or washing facilities, and accommodation consisting of tents and improvised shelters. Food was supplied by charity kitchens. The French authorities faced a dilemma of addressing humanitarian needs without attracting additional migrants.
By September 2014, The Guardian estimated that there were 1,300 migrants in Calais, mostly from Eritrea, Somalia and Syria. In 2015, fuelled by the European migrant crisis, the numbers began to grow. Migrants arrived from Afghanistan, Darfur, Iraq and other conflict zones. By July 2015, The Telegraph reported that the "new jungle" (known by the authorities as Camp de la Lande) had 3,000 inhabitants.
Médecins du Monde stated in 2015 that 62% of the migrants in Calais were young men with an average age of 33, with an increase in the number unaccompanied children (517 in 2014). Many migrants later moved to smaller camps near Calais and Dunkirk.
As of November 2015, there were an estimated 6,000 migrants living in this makeshift encampment. At the end of February 2016, the BBC noted that there were differing figures for the population of the camp: "Calais officials say it houses 3,700, while Help Refugees puts it at 5,497".
In January 2016, French authorities opened a shelter in the northeastern part of the camp. Authorities had earlier cleared tents and shacks from this area and erected 125 metal shipping containers in their place, converting them into housing units for up to 1,500 migrants. Shipping containers, rather than more permanent structures, were chosen because the sand dunes are unfit for permanent foundations. The container shelters were painted white and were furnished with bunk beds, windows, and heaters, but no running water or sanitary facilities (toilets and showers were made available at an existing nearby facility). At the time, Reuters described the Jungle as "squalid" and "unsanitary" and estimated its total population to be 4,000.
Many migrants subsequently moved into the container housing, but some resisted the French government's ultimatum to leave the Jungle and go to the container area, citing the area's spartan setup, lack of communal areas, and fears that once in the new housing area, they would be blocked from going to Britain.
On 25 February 2016, the French government received approval from a court in Lille to evict 1,000 migrants from the camp; the group Help Refugees estimated that 3,455 refugees were living in the eviction area. During the evictions the southern side of the camp was demolished. There was some resistance; riot police used tear gas and stones were thrown. At least 12 huts were set on fire. A petition by charities to stop a planned demolition of the southern half of the Jungle was rejected by a French court.
In early March 2016, workers under heavy police guard began to demolish shacks in the encampment; police clashed with migrants and British No Border activists, who set fire to structures in response. Protests continued into the evening, when migrants blocked the nearby road. Three No Border activists and one migrant were arrested.
As of March 2016, local authorities had estimated the population of the camp at 3,700 (of whom about 800 to 1,000 would be affected by the eviction). Aid groups had put the number higher, stating that according to a census they had conducted, there were "at least 3,450 people in the southern part alone, including 300 unaccompanied children." French Minister of the Economy Emmanuel Macron warned that should the UK vote to leave the EU in its June 2016 referendum, the juxtaposed controls arrangements that allow British immigration officials to operate in Calais might be threatened, and that as a consequence the Calais jungle might transfer to Britain.
The Refugee Rights Data Project (RRDP) released a report in April 2016 called 'The Long Wait: Filling the data gaps relating to refugees and displaced people in the Calais camp.' It stated that 75.9% of the 870 refugees surveyed at the jungle said that they had experienced police violence, a category which included physical violence, verbal abuse, tear gas and sexual violence. A similar figure (76.7%) reported health issues resulting from living in the jungle.
A large fight between 200 and 300 migrants from Afghanistan and Sudan broke out at the Jungle in late May 2016, resulting in 40 injuries (33 migrants, 5 aid workers, and 2 police officers), of which 3 were serious (including a stabbing). Two hundred police officers, seventy firefighters, and eleven ambulances responded to the scene; French authorities opened an investigation. At the time, Deutsche Welle estimated that 4,000 to 5,000 people lived in the camp.
According to a July 2016 census by Help Refugees, the camp was populated by 7,307 migrants - the highest number to date. Of those, 761 were minors according to the census, with the population of the camp growing by 50 people a day on average. It was estimated that the population reached 10,000 before the camp's demolition.
Some migrants were attempting to return to the United Kingdom having once lived there. Others were attempting to enter the British labour market to work illegally rather than claim asylum in France. Many have paid smugglers to get them to Calais: one migrant from Egypt, a politics graduate, told The Guardian that he "paid $3,000 (£2,000) to leave Egypt, risked my life on a boat to Italy spending days at sea" and that in one month he had tried 20 times to reach England; another, an Eritrean woman with a one-year-old child, had paid €2,500 (£1,825) – and her husband the same – to sail to Italy, but her husband had drowned during the journey. Migrants risk their lives when they try to climb aboard or travel on lorries, occasionally falling off and breaking bones; some fatalities en route are also recorded. In September 2016, workers began building a barrier, dubbed "The Great Wall Of Calais", to block refugees from accessing a highway where they could stow away on vehicles bound for Britain.
According to a doctor working in the jungle for 10 days with Médecins Sans Frontières, the conditions of the shanty town were worse than anything she had seen in slums in Africa. Access to water taps and showers was inadequate. Médecins du Monde stated in July 2015 that there was "insufficient drinking water (30 taps), practically no toilets (20 for 3,000 people), insufficient food, inadequate health care."
A number of NGOs worked to provide refugee relief, including the French associations L'Aubergue des Migrants, Salam, Secours Catholique, and Utopia 56. A number of foreign NGOs were also present, including Help Refugees (working in partnership with L'Auberge des Migrants), Refugee Community Kitchen, Calais Kitchens, Belgium Kitchen, Care4Calais, Refugee Info Bus. Educational services were provided by Jungle Books, the Ecole Laique du chemins des dunes and by Edlumino.
St. Michael's Church, (also known as The Eritrean Church, or Ethiopian Church) was one of the most recognisable religious buildings in the camp, and one of the earliest community constructed structures, built in April 2015. The church was featured on the BBC Television's Songs of Praise in August 2015. This was a controversial action since the BBC was accused of wasting its licence payers' fees and of taking a political stance. Senior Church of England figures such as the Bishop of Leeds, the Dean of Durham and the Archbishop of Canterbury said they fully supported the program. In 2016, a different church and a mosque were demolished by the authorities.
Jaz O'Hara visited the jungle with her boyfriend in 2015 and decided to collect donations after writing a Facebook post which was shared 60,000 times. They set up a group called CalAid and collected clothing donations in London. They received hundreds of tents from Reading and Leeds festivals and took the donations to Calais in a fleet of 40 vans.
On Monday, 24 October 2016, the French authorities began the final major eviction at dawn. It was planned that 6,400 migrants would be moved from the jungle to 280 temporary reception centres around France, in 170 buses.
On Wednesday, 26 October, the prefect of Pas-de-Calais, Fabienne Buccio, announced that the camp had been cleared, but news reporters stated there were still adults in the camp and unaccompanied children were waiting to be processed. Whilst some migrants relocated to a camp in Grande-Synthe, many fled to informal settlements in rural areas across northern France.
On Thursday, 27 October, the UK and French governments were condemned by aid workers from groups such as Help Refugees and Save the Children for not respecting the human rights of children. The 200 unaccompanied children, aged 14 to 17, had been lured out of the camp by promises of transport to an asylum centre, but ended up being told by police to return to a derelict and unheated former school building in the camp, after Baroness Sheehan had intervened. Liberal Democrat peer Sheehan had traveled to the camp to witness the eviction.
On Wednesday November 2, the final stages of the eviction took place. An estimated 1,500 people including children had been sleeping for a week in shipping containers. Buses took the migrants to asylum centres at undisclosed locations across the country. Aid groups later reported that many of former jungle residents had moved to the streets of Paris.
Human Rights Watch published a report in July 2017 called Like Living in Hell documenting what it described as continuing human rights abuses by the police against children and adult migrants in the region. It stated that nine months after the eviction of the jungle, around 500 migrants were still living in various locations around Calais. Having interviewed over 60 migrants and more than 20 aid workers, the report noted that police, particularly CRS (Compagnies Républicaines de Sécurité, French riot police), were routinely spraying migrants, their possessions and their food and water with pepper spray.
In popular culture
- 2016: Jérôme Sessini made a photo report for Magnum Photos about the jungle.
- 2017: Nicolas Klotz and Élisabeth Perceval launched a documentary film on the Calais Jungle: "The Wild Frontier" (original title: L'héroïque lande, la frontière brûle, France, 225 min.).
- 2017: The Jungle is the subject of a play of the same name by Joe Robertson and Joe Murphy. It premiered at the Young Vic in London and has since been performed in New York and San Francisco.
- 2019: The Jungle was the subject of a major temporary exhibition at the Pitt Rivers Museum titled Lande: the Calais "Jungle" and Beyond.
- Channel Tunnel: Asylum and immigration
- Environmental racism in Europe
- Illegal immigration in the United Kingdom
- List of border crossing points in France
- Schengen Agreement
- Welcome (2009 film)
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Si à Calais se trouvent de nombreux femmes et enfants, la population des centres d’accueil est en majorité jeune et masculine (62% d’hommes, 33 ans de moyenne d’âge). MDM note une augmentation des mineurs étrangers isolés (517 accueillis en 2014, un chiffre multiplié par 8 depuis 2011), soumis par l’Etat à « des tests de maturation osseuse absolument pas fiables », dénonce Mme Sivignon, pour déterminer leur âge et savoir s’ils peuvent être pris en charge par l’aide sociale à l’enfance.
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Dans mes séjours passés en Afrique, je n’ai jamais vu un bidonville d’une telle insalubrité. Des toilettes, des points d’eau inutilisables vu leur état et leur nombre tellement insuffisant.
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A partir de 8 heures, les premiers autocars commenceront à évacuer 6 400 exilés vers 280 lieux répartis dans toute la France
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