- Title: Calais migrants pray in "Jungle" church ahead of demolition
- Date: 30th October 2016
- Summary: CALAIS, FRANCE (OCTOBER 30, 2016) (REUTERS) PEOPLE GATHERING IN FRONT OF ORTHODOX CHURCH IN THE PREVIOUSLY DEMOLISHED SOUTHERN PART OF THE "JUNGLE" CAMP
- Embargoed: 14th November 2016 16:07
- Keywords: Europe migrants refugees France Calais church Jungle camp demolition
- Location: CALAIS, FRANCE
- City: CALAIS, FRANCE
- Country: France
- Topics: Asylum/Immigration/Refugees,Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA0015674NRB
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: ATTENTION FRENCH CLIENTS ONLY: EDITORS PLEASE CHECK IF ANY REPORTING RESTRICTIONS APPLY IN SHOWING THE FACES OF MINORS
Dozens of migrants made up mostly of Eritrean and Ethiopian minors gathered at a makeshift Orthodox church in the southern part of the Calais "Jungle", one of the only places still standing in the area, to attend their last service before the camp is entirely demolished.
It took several migrants in the camp and volunteers from various NGOs two months to build the church, which they completed in July 2015. French authorities announced the structure would be destroyed but failed to give an exact date.
Like every Sunday, migrants emerged to make their way to the church, only this time instead of coming from tents and shelters, they left their white shipping containers, which were converted into temporary lodgings for minor migrants.
Young migrant men and women gathered for three hours to pray, leaving their shoes outside.
Calais resident Pascal Froehly who also works for Caritas France charity attended the service, saying he would like to see the church survive the demolition.
"It would be a good thing (not to demolish the Church) and it has been built quite solidly for that purpose. It's an opportunity to recognise the knowledge and ingenuity of the refugees, among other things. Does the term 'monument' seem excessive to you? A kind of reminder of what happened here, of the joy and suffering," he said.
Bulldozers are flattening the sprawl of ramshackle huts and tents which had been home to about 6,000 refugees and migrants from Asia, the Middle East and Africa hoping to cross the English Channel and start new lives in Britain.
Most have now been bussed to other centres across France pending examination of their cases. But the plight of hundreds of minors roaming the area, nearly 1,500 of whom have signed up for temporary lodging in container-boxes in Calais, has become a point of dispute.
French government officials in the region say that 1,451 minors are in the container-box lodgings. Britain has so far accepted 274 children from among this group, France says.
Aid groups say hundreds if not thousands more adults and minors may have fled into the hinterland around the Jungle, ready to return when the heavy police presence wanes.
Sylvain Marly, an employee at the Auberge des Migrants NGO told Reuters that keeping so many minors in one place would create security problems.
"We know that there are more than 1,500 minors at the CAP (Temporary Reception Centre) but we also know that there are a few in the Jungle. Yesterday around ten people had to sleep outside the CAP, unaccompanied minors. And we also know that there were some security problems inside the CAP and it would worth investigating that. There are still people who are hiding out in the area and who come back here during the day to have access to food, water, things like that," he said.
European Union rules say Britain must take in unaccompanied children who have family ties there. An amendment to those rules adopted in Britain this year states that such minors whose best interests are served by doing so should also be admitted.
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