New ‘Jungle’ For Asylum Seekers Springs Up On Outskirts Of Calais

New 'jungle' for asylum seekers springs up on outskirts of Calais

A new 'jungle' has sprung up in Calais just 24 hours after police closed a large makeshift camp for asylum seekers less than a mile away in the northern French town.

By Caroline Gammell in Calais
The Telegraph (U.K.), September 24, 2009

The new site, next to a bridge, lies in wasteland near the city centre, just yards from the grandiose town hall.

More than 30 men gathered there yesterday to receive food from a local charity after being released from detention by the French authorities. Many said they would remain there until they could find a way into Britain.

At least five other small camps have also sprung up in the area near the port as hundreds of migrants hope to reach the UK.

Nearly 300 people, mostly young Afghan men, were rounded up on Tuesday while their 'jungle' ghetto of tarpaulin and wooden houses which had built up over the last five years – was razed to the ground.

They were taken to a detention centre in Lille where they were either offered the option to claim asylum in France or return to their home countries.

The vast majority refused both options, determined to reach the UK.

William Spindler, from the UNHCR, said 20 migrants were released on Monday, while more were freed gradually throughout the early hours of yesterday.

He said: 'The conditions in the jungle were appalling, but just closing it down without providing any alternative is not going to solve the problem.

'They will just set up other camps somewhere else.'

Aftar Gul was among those who lost everything when his makeshift home in the 'jungle' was destroyed and he was detained. He was subsequently released at 2am yesterday (wed).

The 25-year-old, who looks considerably older, jumped on a train back to Calais immediately without a ticket and found refuge at the bridge.

He said he would stay there and try to make his way to Britain again.

Mr Gul, who left a wife and five children in Jalalabad in Afghanistan, claimed to have tried more than 300 times to get to the UK by jumping on lorries and trains crossing the Channel.

He left Afghanistan a year ago, travelling 17 hours in a truck to reach Greece, before moving through Italy and arriving in France six months ago.

The barber said he had a cousin and nephew in the UK, currently in a detention centre themselves, and would not stop until he got there, where he hoped to find suitable accommodation and a job.

'I hope and ask God that I will succeed in getting to England. My family are waiting to help me.

'I do not want to stay in France. I will try by any means to get to England. I have to live next to this bridge because I do not have any choice.

'The French police destroyed my home in the 'jungle'. I lost everything.'

Fellow Afghan Kamran Warakheel added, as he wrapped himself in a blanket to get some sleep: 'This is the new jungle.'

Those migrants detained by the police yesterday were just a small proportion of those who lived in the 'jungle' as many had moved on before the authorities arrived.

It is feared that they may have moved further down the coast, to places such as Dunkirk, and set up camp anew.


Calais immigrants move out of the 'jungle' into the wasteland
People have been sleeping rough since Tuesday after a dawn raid on the makeshift camp
By Alexandra Topping and Angelique Chrisafis
The Guardian (U.K.), September 24, 2009