A migrant camp in Calais, France was shut down last Friday, getting destroyed by bulldozers. More than 5,000 migrants from different parts of Africa and the Middle East moved from Northern France to the city after not having the shelter they were looking for.

President Francois Hollande said that the reason behind the dismantling of the camp was that the French government cannot tolerate them, that they will not be a long-lasting solution. Calais, a port city which serves as a gate for migrants from the Middle East and Africa, is the main city facing this issue.

An excavator passes through the migrant camp called ‘New Jungle’ next to the fence of the ferry port in Calais, northern France. Image Credit: Japan Times/Getty Images.

From the last weeks and months, France has been receiving undocumented migrants, particularly from Libya, though it is not the only country providing refugees. Since June 2015, there have been 19,000 migrants in temporary housing. They vary from war refugees to people escaping from poverty and looking for better job opportunities.

The French president said to have spoken to British Prime Minister, Theresa May, to urge the Great Britain to collaborate on the issue, as reported by the New York Times. After all, most of the migrants were hoping to go to London and aspire a new life over there. France has been trying to face it as best as it can. It has been trying to give shelter to asylum-seekers but also said that it will be deporting those without the right to ask for asylum.

Five thousand of the people in Calais were evacuated to 450 different reception centers. But there are more than 5,000 migrants, and 1,500 of the underage remain in Calais.

Migrant overpopulation in French communities

Migrants were evacuated from Calais and transported to other cities and towns in France. However, these brings mixed feelings to the French population. There are some cases in which communities have welcomed them with posters and balloons, wanting them to feel as part of their society. 

There are other cases (the common denominator) in which there is a separation between the two population, as reported by the Washington Post. Discrimination is evident and strong. In some places there have been voting procedures to settle the issue. An example is Forges-les-Bains, in which 61% of the people voted against receiving the migrants.

The sad and impressive reactions have been outbursts of violence, like in the cases of Loubeyrat some weeks ago and Arrès in the last summer. These violence cases are still under investigation.

The town of Bauzille-de-Putois will be receiving 87 of the migrants – mostly single men from Sudan- evacuated from Calais. And the town does not want them. 1,800 people reacted to this decision.

Michel Issert, the 69-year-old mayor, said -in an interview made by the Washington Post- that accepting them into the town will be mathematical inequality, which is a synonym for Republican inequality. These migrants will be representing 42% of Bauzille-de-Putois population. “It´s too much,” he stated.

Asking other people in the village, Denise Guibal, a 78 year-old man, said that one of the main problems was that they were mostly single men. They could be dangerous to girls and women in town. They will not feel safe living around them. The Madar sisters, Marine (19) and Sandy (21), said they thought the main problem was the discrimination these people will suffer. They said people can be very racist in the village. Both girls are seen as two foreigners because their family has not been living for a long time ago there, even though they moved when they were very little.

But then again, the mayor has a point. Even if the town accepted these refugees, there is no work to offer them and the people who would like to help them do not have the resources or network to maintain them.

When the journal asked David, one of the migrants from Darfur, Sudan, his opinions on the matter, he answered that they do not want to cause that trouble. They were just looking for shelter in the UK. 

Tents and shelters are seen at a makeshift camp for migrants and asylum seekers in Calais. Image Credit: Pascal Rossignol/Reuters

Children are sleeping in the “Jungle.”

People like David were congregated into buses to be sent to other parts of the country before the destruction of the Calais camp. But not everybody was on those buses. Children were left behind having to sleep in the remains of the camp, which is now called the “Jungle.”

A humanitarian adviser from Save the Children, Dorothy Sang, said -as reported by the Independent– that these kids did not go with the buses because of the distrust they felt among French authorities. She mentioned this is related to the fact that there were no youth workers in the evacuation, which certainly could have helped, making the process easier.

Sang, along with her team, has been recollecting the children from the streets trying to give them shelter. She stated that the kids wanted to go to a container camp erected within the city, where claims and requests were taken before sending the people away. But this camp is full, and there is restricted access.

As a result, children, having nowhere to go, end up sleeping in the Jungle, a very dangerous place. There is the risk of violence, including the risk of sexual assault. Sang and her team have found terrified, ill and injured teenagers alone wandering through this place after being left behind.

Organizations such as Save the Children and Help Refugee, run by Barbara Winton -the daughter of a British man who saved Jewish kids during World War II- urge and ask the governments urgently to take actions on the matter. They believe that by helping them, they are cultivating future stable integrated citizens who will contribute to their societies in the future.

Source: The New York Times.