Fires set by angry residents as squalid camp demolished
Fresh fires broke out yesterday in the “Jungle” on the second day of operations to dismantle the squalid migrant camp in northern France, sending people fleeing with their meagre belongings.
Huge clouds of black smoke billowed over the sprawling settlement near the port city of Calais, which the French authorities said they expected to finish clearing by the evening.
Scores of riot police were massed on the outskirts of the Jungle, where the flames destroyed many of the tents and makeshift shelters that had housed the thousands of migrants and refugees, including children.
Migrants and officials said the fires that blazed through the camp overnight and early yesterday had been set deliberately, and exploding gas cylinders had caused them to spread.
Police said four migrants had been arrested on suspicion of arson.
An Eritrean teenager said Afghans had started the fires.
“They are angry because the Jungle is finished and they cannot go to England,” he said.
Many migrants were seen taking selfies with flames in the background.
Scores of people escaped to an area just outside the camp.
Police barred them from going back in and they were seen on the road, some with backpacks and suitcases.
About half of the camp’s estimated6 000 to 8 000 migrants have been transferred out since Monday, boarding buses to centres around France.
Nearly 800 unaccompanied minors– whose fate has been a key cause of concern on both sides of the Channel– have been moved to shipping containers converted into temporary shelters in the Jungle.
Meanwhile, workers in orange overalls ramped up demolition operations, tearing down tents and make shift shelters at the lawless camp that has become a symbol of Europe’s migrant crisis.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said on Tuesday that all minors with proven family links in Britain would eventually be transferred there.
He said London had committed to reviewing all other cases where it was in the child’s interest to settle across the Channel.
The Jungle has for years been a launch-pad for migrants attempting to make it to Britain by sneaking onto trucks or jumping onto trains heading across the Channel.