The President of France, François Hollande has reiterated his promise to close the Jungle Camp in Calais in a matter of weeks.
He has stated that the conditions in the camp were ‘unacceptable’, and there should be no more camps in France. Instead, he plans to have refugees transferred to different centres across France, where they will be held for up to four months while their case is processed. If they have no right to be in the European Union, they will be deported back to the country they fled from.
Official estimates place the population of the camp at 7000, but humanitarian groups place the number at around 9000, with 865 of them being children, and 676 of those children are unaccompanied.
The interior minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, promised places for 8000 refugees this year, with accommodation for thousands more in 2017. Paris will open its first refugee camp with capacity for 400 people in mid-October.
There is no set date for the closure of the camp, but the government wants it closed as soon as possible. The southern area of the camp was dismantled in February, but since June its population has more than doubled. With French presidential elections coming up in May next year, both Hollande and his opponent, Nicolas Sarkozy have taken a stand on immigration, which will be an important topic of debate. Sarkozy has even called for the Jungle Camp to be moved to England.
The mayor of Calais, Natacha Bouchart has stated that it is ‘more than a relief’ that the camp will be dismantled, the tensions have been rising between the refugees and the inhabitants of Calais, and she has been asking for a long time that the army come in and prevent the refugees from trying to jump into trucks to cross the border into England.
In contrast, humanitarian groups who help at the camp have described the closing of the camp as ‘political posturing’, saying that there is no proper plan and that it will be a disaster as it will cause refugees to scatter and only worsen the humanitarian crisis.