The préfets — French heads of regions — throughout France, will have to find 8,000 new places to house the refugees currently living the Calais Jungle camp, by the end of the year.
The French government has now approved the relocation, throughout the entire country, of the refugees currently living in the Calais camp, French newspaper le Figaro has revealed on Tuesday.
The Jungle camp — like the one in Dunkirk — is home to an estimated 9,000 refugees who are desperately trying to make their way to the UK. Some have family members or friends who already live there, others speak English fluently and have studied English literature, which would facilitate establishing a life there.
The government’s objective is to have 12,000 places in the reception and orientation centres (CAO) in the country by the end of the year. Since November 2015, 3,000 such places have already been created in France, according the Figaro, so that would leave the préfets with less than four months to find an additional 8,000 places. The government also wants 1,000 of those places to be created by the end of October.
There are two notable exceptions to the government’s relocation scheme: Corsica and Paris will be exempt from taking on refugees due to the already tense situation between locals and migrants in those regions.
Temporary housing is currently being built in northern Paris to house the thousands of refugees and migrants living in shantytowns on the edge of the city, but the government does not plan for those to be permanent housing situations.
In Corsica, tensions between locals and immigrants from Northern African and the Middle East — where the majority of the Calais jungle residents are from — boiled over during the summer, and a brawl between locals and members of the island’s foreign community left four people seriously injured.
France has been grappling with rising anti-immigrant sentiments throughout the nation, especially after the latest set of attacks in Nice that killed 86 people and the murder of a priest in his church by men who had pledged allegiance to ISIS.
The Calais camp has been one of the focal points of that sentiment, and its dismantlement has been promised by politicians for years.
At the beginning of September, the French Interior Minister, Bernard Cazeneuve, said when he visited Calais that he wanted the jungle to be completely dismantled “as soon as possible.”
The group “Care4Calais” that helps refugees in the Calais jungle have been told by local authorities that the dismantlement would start as early as October 7.
Clare Moseley, the founder of Care4Calais said in a statement that it was clear those demolitions were not effective:
“In February this year over 50% of the camp was demolished and yet six months later the camp is bigger than it has ever been before. This is clear evidence that demolitions do not act as a deterrent. The refugees come because they have no choice. Destroying their homes will achieve nothing more than making living conditions so much more inhumane.”
The construction of a wall, which is partly funded by Britain, along the road leading up to the channel tunnel will begin later this month. French and UK officials hope the wall will prevent migrants from getting onto the highway and into the back of lorries.
The French government has stated that the 5,000 refugees that were already relocated throughout France over the last year are proof that the relocation can happen without creating problems in the communities, Le Monde reports.
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