President Francois Hollande has vowed to tear down any improvised migrant camps that may spring up after the closure of the infamous ‘Jungle’ in Calais, saying that France “will not tolerate” such chaotic sites anymore.
Speaking at a reception center for asylum seekers in Maine-et-Loire, Hollande reflected on the dismantling of the infamous camp at Calais and promised to deal with any more camps in exactly the same manner.
“This is not sustainable. We will do the same operation as Calais and welcome them to the [reception] centers,” he said. “We could no longer tolerate the camps and we will not tolerate them.”
Hollande also praised the operation to demolish the camp, claiming that the “French people have perfectly understood what we were doing and there have been no incidents or departing or arriving,” as quoted by BFM TV. Over 5,000 people were shipped out on buses to reception centers around the country, leading local prefect Fabienne Buccio to declare there were no more migrants left at the camp.
“This is the end of the ‘Jungle’,” she said. “Mission accomplished.”
Despite Hollande’s claims of a peaceful operation, there were a number of clashes between police and asylum seekers at the site, who started fires with the help of British ‘No Borders’ activists. And even after the official closure of the camp on 26 October, the situation on the ground seems far from resolved. A report from RT revealed that dozens if not hundreds of asylum seekers remain on-site, many of whom chose to skip the resettlement program ran by the government. The problem from Calais has also shifted the problem elsewhere as former residents flee to other sites.
“The number of people has grown by at least a third,” Heloise Mary, who works at a camp near Stalingrad Station in central Paris, told BFM TV.
“We went from 2,000 people to 3,000 people and more in two days with the closure of Calais.”
Meanwhile, the issue of what is to happen to the children from the Jungle has become a political football between Britain and France, as figures from both the French right and the left argue that Britain is not doing its fair share, leaving France to deal with the burden of asylum seekers trying to get into the UK.
“We’ve done Britain’s work in tending to the adults,” Pascal Brice of the Ofpra refugee agency told Reuters. “The least they can do is take care of the isolated minors who are now at the CAP [temporary housing] and who have an interest in going to Britain.”
While mass migration has been an issue in Europe for many years, it gained particular prominence since the so-called Arab Spring rocked the Middle East and North African regions. Germany alone faced an influx of around 900,000 migrants last year. EU countries have been divided on how to approach the problem, with for example Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, in stark contrast to Germany’s Angela Merkel, notably against admitting any asylum seekers. There is also contention as to whether asylum seekers are primarily economic migrants or refugees.
“Yes, there are people who seek a better life after seeing pictures of life in the EU, they think it’s a promised land,” Spyros Galinos, mayor of the Greek island of Lesbos, told RT. “However, wars and suffering at home remain the main causes.”
30 October 2016 | 2:19 am