- Title: FRANCE: Refugees at Calais camp prepare for eviction.
- Date: 22nd September 2009
- Summary: MOBILE PHONE PICTURE OF A YOUNG GIRL IN SOLDIERS UNIFORM
- Embargoed: 7th October 2009 13:00
- Location: France
- Country: France
- Topics: Crime / Law Enforcement,International Relations
- Reuters ID: LVA8SSJZZ4N36GOOKOCWT9P8P3UR
- Story Text: Refugees in the makeshift camp, the "Jungle", prepare for their last night. The French government are due to close the camp on Tuesday.
Refugees at an illegal migrants' camp called the "Jungle" in Calais are preparing for their last night in their makeshift camp. The camp has been the jumping off point for hundreds of asylum seekers bound for the UK, and the French government has vowed to close the place down by the end of this week - police are expected to move in on Tuesday morning.
The makeshift camp, known as 'the Jungle' is home to an estimated 300 mostly Afghan migrants desperate to enter Britain. It is an untidy assembly of improvised tents and cabins made from wooden pallets and tarpaulins strewn with rubbish left by the hundreds who had passed there.
As the night drew in, the refugees prayed in the mosque they had created in a makeshift tent and cooked what would be their last meal over open fires in the "Jungle" which had become their home.
Sixteen year-old Navid from the Kunduz Province in Afghanistan said they all had reasons why they had had to leave their countries, and that no-one would choose to live in conditions like the ones in the makeshift camp unless they had a good reason.
"In our time Afghanistan is very dangerous, there is the Taliban, there are lots of Taliban cases, the Kunduz Province is full of Taliban. It is a province in Afghanistan where the Taliban come into our houses and say 'you have to be in our gang, you have to work with us, you have to fight with us, you have to fight in front of your government'. For example the Taliban education is that you have to wear this vest, this suicide vest. You have to wear this suicide vest and explode yourself infront of the foreign people."
Last Wednesday, Immigration Minister Eric Besson said the camp would be closed down as it posed an intolerable burden on the local population and was a magnet for criminals and human traffickers who prey on the migrants.
Navid said they had no choice, if the police close the camp they would simply look for another place to set up a camp, he believed the government would grant him asylum and not send him back to Afghanstan.
"I don't know what will happen. If they sendâ€¦ You know, if the government of France send them back to Afghanistan, then maybe they will be terrorists, maybe they will be Taliban, maybe they will wear this suicide jacket and explode themselves. It is dangerous for us, I don't believe that France's government will do this."
The issue of migrants gathering near the entrance of the northern France has been a running sore in relations between France and Britain, which is keen to stem the flow of illegal migrants through the Channel ports. The current 'jungle' sprang up after the closure in 2002 of a formal refugee camp in the nearby village of Sangatte under pressure from Britain, which was concerned that it acted as a magnet for refugees.
Now the refugees are hoping that their prayers for a new home, a safe home, will be answered. Some of them are already turning up in Paris, where they are sleeping in a park in the 10th district which is slowly being referred to as "Little Kabul".
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