France: Calais ‘jungle’ camp refugees clash with police

Tear gas fired at angry refugees, including minors, day before so-called jungle camp is due to be demolished in France.

Residents of the so-called jungle in Calais, a French refugee camp, clashed with police as the government prepared to close the sprawling settlement in northern France.

Dozens of people could be seen throwing rocks at police in images broadcast on Sunday by the French BFMTV station. Authorities responded with tear gas.

Al Jazeera’s David Chater, reporting from Calais, said frustrated refugees were protesting against the camp’s demolition.

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“There are frustrated young men here who took so much time and effort trying to reach here and are now realising that the police will be here to clear them up, so they might get violent,” Chater said.

“French officials are moving around the camp distributing about 10,000 leaflets to the people, telling them exactly what is going to happen to them and when it’s going to happen. In reaction, some of those leaflets have been torn in to pieces by the refugees.”

The closure of the camp is due to begin on Monday.

Most refugees are are trying to get to Britian. French authorities said the refugees will be settled in other centres across France.

Teenagers arrive in UK

The first group of unaccompanied teenagers from the camp arrived in Britain on Sunday. 

They are the first minors to be brought from Calais without relatives or family in the UK. Dozens more are expected in the coming days.

They are entitled to move under EU asylum laws. Britain has been under pressure step up efforts to help the refugees, ahead of the camp’s closure.

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Al Jazeera’s Emma Hayward, reporting from London, said what makes the group of children who have arrived in London different is that they do not have ties to the UK nor any relatives in the country.

“These children are are seen as vulnerable. There are some reports of children arriving yesterday but we are not sure what will happen to them in the long-term and whether or not they will be placed in foster care,” Hayward said.

The number of residents in the camp is believed to be more than 10,000 with more than 1,179 children, the vast majority of whom are unaccompanied.

French President Francois Hollande has described the situation in Calais as “unacceptable”.

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A French court this week dismissed a legal challenge by charities who had sought more time to find the refugees alternative housing.

Following the closure, refugees will have to present themselves at a giant hangar where they will be separated into families, adults, unaccompanied minors and vulnerable individuals, including elderly people and single women.

They will then travel on buses to a network of 450 reception centres across the country, where they will receive medical checks and, if they have not already done so, decide whether to apply for asylum.

The Calais ‘Jungle’ Clinic – The Cure

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies