French minister vows rapid closure of 'Jungle migrant camp'

French minister vows rapid closure of 'Jungle migrant camp'
Bernard Cazeneuve has urged for the closure of the 'Jungle camp' in the northern port of Calais 'as rapidly as possible' while charities call the proposed housing alternatives 'insufficient'.
2 min read
03 September, 2016
The camp is currently home to more than 7,000 refugees [Getty]
France says it will dismantle the "Jungle" migrant camp in the northern port of Calais "as rapidly as possible".

Authorities must work "methodically and with perseverance... to definitively close the camp," Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told security forces in the city on Friday.

The minister said the dismantling would be "gradual and controlled" but that its closure should be achieved "as rapidly as possible".

France has made repeated efforts to shut down the camp of tents and temporary shelters, which authorities say is currently home to nearly 7,000 refugees following a surge of new arrivals in recent months. But charities helping the refugees in the camp say the real figure is as high as 10,000.

Earlier this year, authorities cleared shelters in parts of the site in a bid to persuade them to move into more permanent accommodation or camps elsewhere on the northern coast.

Crowding at the camp is causing fresh tensions. Two people were seriously hurt on Tuesday in what appears to have been a fight between Sudanese and Afghan residents. The Jungle's population also includes large numbers of Somalis, Kurds and Syrians.

Franck Esnee, head of the Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) branch working at the camp, agreed that the Jungle should be dismantled but said the proposed alternatives were "insufficient".

Additional permanent accommodation is needed, he said, adding: "The government needs to encourage initiatives by local mayors who are proposing to take in migrants in their towns."

The government should also encourage the requisitioning of public buildings to house migrants, he said.