In 2015, more than a million people arrived in Europe as migrants, many of them refugees from Middle East, especially Syria, which has been going through a civil war since 2011.
As EU state’s struggled to resettle the people, refugee camps sprang up all over the place, one of them is the Calais ‘Jungle’ Camp in France. The camp has an official population of 7000 people, while some organisations but the number over 8000. Earlier in 2016 the camp area was reduced by half yet the population has been on the rise.
In a latest attempt to clear the camp area, French authorities began to dismantle it three days ago. A series of fires erupted in the ‘Jungle’ camp yesterday which has delayed the evacuation operations and put the migrants in distress.
While it was unclear who was behind the fires, the prefect of Pas-de-Calais mentioned in a statement that migrants often set fire to their houses when they left a camp.
There are various opinions regarding what could have caused these fires. Many have said that this could have been a last defiant act on behalf of the migrants who did not want to leave the camp, or see their camp dismantled by the authorities.
Migrants have claimed however that protesters and activists had started the fires. A resident described, that every time one fire was put out, another would spring up. The fire fighters too arrived late and thus immigrants and volunteers were fighting fires by themselves for a while.
Save the Children, a charity which has been active in fighting for the rights of immigrants commented that the fires had resulted in hundreds of children sleeping in the jungle, under the bridge and in dire conditions yesterday. She said that many ran away, the fire had worsened the danger of the situation for the children according to her.
Many migrants joined the vehicles leaving the camps next day, without struggle. Protesters including locals and truck operators have been protesting the alleged violence caused by the migrants in the camp.