As workers begin to demolish France's "Jungle" migrant camp today, flashes of unrest were reported Sunday as residents of the Jungle, Calais' infamous refugee camp, lashed out at government preparations to shut down the sprawling settlement in northern France. Dozens of people could be seen throwing rocks at police in images relayed by French broadcaster BFMTV. The authorities responded with tear gas.Six months before the presidential elections, the French government is taking a hard line on the Jungle refugee camp on the outskirts of Calais. French President Francois Hollande has vowed to close the so-called Jungle camp. Though previous efforts to disperse the camp have failed, France is expected to move the migrants from their makeshift houses this week.
An 18-hectare wasteland in the French port city was turned into a camp in April 2015. Hundreds of migrants were relocated by French authorities where there is no access to basic services. Most migrants coming from the eastern African countries of Eritrea, Ethiopia and Sudan and war-torn Syria intend to cross the English Channel and seek asylum in the U.K. As only a small number of refugees are eligible to enter European countries, the ones that can find shelter suffer from worsening humanitarian conditions in refugee camps.
Migrants have gathered here for years with the aim of crossing illegally to Britain - the English port of Dover is just 40 kilometers away. The international refugee crisis has exacerbated the situation. Since early 2015, a large camp has arisen on unused land, with tents, huts and state-funded containers converted into temporary housing, which can accommodate some 1,500 people. There are around 1,300 unaccompanied minors in the camp, with around 500 of them reported to have relatives in Britain.
The "Jungle" has become a symbol of the Europe's biggest migrant crisis since the World War II and a major source of Anglo-French tensions, leading President Francois Hollande to demand that the site be demolished before the end of 2016.There has been a growing tension between France and Britain. While Britain wants to retain the border deal, France wants border controls to take place in the U.K., instead of carrying out immigration checks in Calais.
According to the historic border agreement, dubbed Le Touquet Treaty signed in 2003, British security controls have been stationed at the French border and immigration checks are carried out in French ferry terminals in the northern French port city of Calais. The agreement also allows French border officials to check the documents of migrants in Dover, across the English Channel.