Volunteer at Calais Jungle Urges Cameron to Take in Migrants–But Has to Move After They Start Pelting Him with Rocks
Gianluca Mezzofiore and Peter Allen, Daily Mail, February 29, 2016
A British refugee campaigner has been pelted with rocks in the ‘Jungle’ migrant camp in Calais while talking live to Sky News as French authorities were dismantling the sprawling centre after a court ruling.
Calais volunteer Simon Dunning was urging David Cameron to ‘let in six and a half thousand people’ living in the camp when stones were seen flying by, forcing reporter Mark Stone to interrupt him.
‘We’ll move farther down the bank because they’re throwing rocks at us,’ he said before ducking to avoid the stones.
The incident took place as helmeted workers began pulling down makeshift structures where migrants sleep as they were relocated to purpose-built accommodation.
Two bulldozers and around 20 workers were employed in dismantling the camp as 55 police cars and two anti-riot vans stationed nearby.
Refugee organisations said thousands had their shelters displaced and others moved into shipping containers set in a nearby park after authorities said they would use force if necessary to move the camp’s inhabitants.
Clashes with police broke out as about 150-200 migrants and activists threw stones and officers reacted firing teargas and water cannons.
Three makeshift shelters were set ablaze in protest against the dismantlement of the camp.
Ahead of the demolition, hundreds of riot police moved into the camp and ordered ‘Please evacuate the area’ as bewildered migrants asked ‘Where are we meant to go?’.
Many officers were carrying riot shields and tear gas canisters, as well as weapons including pistols and rifles. ‘Our orders are to disperse people peacefully,’ said an officer. ‘We are are doing everything possible to keep the situation peaceful.
Kazim Lahr, a 22-year-old Afghan refugee, said: ‘We expected them to move in this week, but the number of police is astonishing. ‘We have been told to get out of the south side of the camp, which is where all our homes and restaurants are. We have nowhere else to go.
‘Me and my friends are preparing to stay here, as our only intention is to get to Britain. The French treat us like animals, but the British will not.’
‘All they want to do is herd us into a prison so they can register our details and watch us all the time. There are no cooking facilities inside the units, and space is very limited.’
While official figures say 1,000 people remain inside the main camp a census carried out by charities recorded 3,455 people living there.
The situation remained calm, although one member of the British ‘No Borders’ activist group was arrested.
‘We are carrying out our orders so that the migrants leave the camp and we will continue this work this morning… so that the destruction work can continue calmly and that the migrants are not under pressure from the No Borders activists,’ said local authority head Fabienne Buccio.
Buccio said three-quarters of the shacks in the southern half of the camp were now empty after migrants were encouraged to leave in recent days.
The move comes after a Lille court gave authorities the all-clear to evict migrants from their tents in the densely populated portion of the camp, although it said they cannot entirely raze it.
A spokesperson for the court confirmed common spaces like schools and places of worship must be kept in place.
Calais mayor Natacha Bouchart said: ‘I am satisfied by this responsible decision which will allow the progressive dismantling of the southern part of the Jungle to proceed over the next three weeks.’
Some migrants have been offered accommodation in converted shipping units in the north side, but there are not enough to go round.
The units are behind security fences, and all those who apply for a heated unit have to supply palm prints.
‘They are like prisons–very few of us want to go there,’ said an Afghan migrant, who asked to be referred to as Ali, 25.