As you read this CRS police squads, acting on French government orders, will once again be destroying the make-shift homes and personal property of the 9000 people who are trying to survive in the Calais refugee camp.
They have returned to this task sporadically over the years. In April 2009 a determined effort to close the camp led to the arrest of 109, with bulldozers destroying the tents of around 800 refugees.
Regrouped after assault
Within weeks the victims of this assault had regrouped and the Jungle was up-and-running again. Another dawn raid in September the same year saw 276 refugees arrested, but the camp survived and even flourished as the wretched home for thousands of people who could find nowhere else to live.
Heedless of past failures to vanquish the refugees, the French government ordered another clearance in January. This one displaced around 1000 people. The forcible eviction was accompanied by efforts to get the refugees to accept alternative accommodation in 125 metal shipping containers. Take-up has been patchy.
Instead French NGOs report there are at least eleven other camps in the region. The biggest is in Grande-Synthe, near Dunkirk. Others are in Boulogne, Dieppe and Le Havre. Smaller ‘jungles’ pop up across the Pay du Nord and Normandy at road junctions and petrol stations – almost anywhere where port-bound traffic slows and there is a chance to jump in the back of a lorry that might possibly be en route to England.