Sunday 4 December 2016

Calais Jungle clearance declared a success despite concerns over fate of many minors

Jemma Crew

Published 26/10/2016 | 21:12

People walk past as thick smoke and flames rise from amidst the tents after fires were started in the makeshift migrant camp known as
People walk past as thick smoke and flames rise from amidst the tents after fires were started in the makeshift migrant camp known as "the jungle" near Calais, northern France (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
A man stands next to a burning tent as fires were started in the makeshift migrant camp known as "the jungle" near Calais, northern France (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Migrants ride past burning shelters set on fire in the makeshift migrant camp known as "the jungle" near Calais, northern France (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Thick smoke and flames rise from amidst the tents after fires were started in the makeshift migrant camp known as "the jungle" near Calais, northern France (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
People stand on a hill as smoke and flames rise from amidst the tents, after fires were started in the makeshift migrant camp known as "the jungle" near Calais, northern France (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Migrants look at burning makeshift shelters and tents in the "Jungle" on the third day of their evacuation and transfer to reception centers in France, as part of the dismantlement of the camp in Calais, France, October 26, 2016. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer

French government officials have declared the operation to clear the Calais 'Jungle' a success despite charities on the ground reporting that hundreds of child refugees had been left unregistered and with nowhere to go.

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Pascal Brice, head of the Office for Refugees and Stateless People, said everybody leaving the squalid camp had been registered at the processing centre on the edge of the site.

He spoke as firefighters fought to tackle a series of fires blamed by officials on disgruntled refugees and migrants.

But charities working with the refugees immediately contradicted the official declaration, claiming the warehouse used to register camp dwellers had been closed before many unaccompanied children living in the Jungle had been processed and transported to alternative accommodation elsewhere in France.

Firefighters extinguish burning makeshift shelters and tents in the
Firefighters extinguish burning makeshift shelters and tents in the "Jungle" on the third day of the evacuation of migrants and their transfer to reception centers in France, as part of the dismantlement of the camp in Calais, France, October 26, 2016. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer
Migrants look at burning makeshift shelters and tents in the "Jungle" on the third day of their evacuation and transfer to reception centers in France, as part of the dismantlement of the camp in Calais, France, October 26, 2016. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer
Migrants look at burning makeshift shelters and tents in the "Jungle" on the third day of their evacuation and transfer to reception centers in France, as part of the dismantlement of the camp in Calais, France, October 26, 2016. REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer
Migrants hurriedly remove their possessions from a tent as another shelter burns behind in the makeshift migrant camp near Calais, northern France (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
People stand outside the burning makeshift migrant camp as police officers form a line before letting them back in again once the fires had died down near Calais, northern France (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Migrants, police and media stand on a hill overlooking shelters burning in the makeshift migrant camp near Calais, northern France (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
A migrant looks at the remains of a shop burnt in the makeshift migrant camp near Calais, northern France (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

And migrants and refugees could be seen still walking with their belongings towards the warehouse, while other groups sat waiting in the sun in the road leading to it.

Mr Brice told reporters on Wednesday afternoon: "The operation will be over tonight because all the people who were leaving the Jungle are now welcomed in France, in good conditions in accommodation centres.

"It is a matter of satisfaction for the French administration because all those people now are in centres all around France and the Jungle is over."

Some 4,404 migrants and refugees and around 1,200 minors have passed through the registration warehouse since the beginning of the operation, the French Interior Ministry said.

A spokeswoman for the local prefecture said that the rate of demolition would be scaled up on Thursday with larger machinery moving in.

Save The Children said it was "extremely concerned" about minors who had not been registered as the site went up in flames.

Migrants carry their belongings as they walk past burning makeshift shelters and tents in the
Migrants carry their belongings as they walk past burning makeshift shelters and tents in the "Jungle" on the third day of their evacuation and transfer to reception centers in France, as part of the dismantlement of the camp in Calais. Photo: REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer
A gas bottle is seen among the flames from a makeshift shelter in the "Jungle" on the third day of their evacuation of migrants and their transfer to reception centers in France, as part of the dismantlement of the camp in Calais, France. Photo: REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer
Smoke rises the sky as makeshift shelters and tents burn in the "Jungle" on the third day of the evacuation of migrants and their transfer to reception centers in France, as part of the dismantlement of the camp in Calais, France. Photo: REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer
A journalist works sitting in a chair next to burnt tents in a makeshift migrant camp known as the 'Jungle' near Calais, northern France. Photo: AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti
Migrants carry their belongings as they walk past burning makeshift shelters and tents in the "Jungle" on the third day of their evacuation and transfer to reception centers in France, as part of the dismantlement of the camp in Calais. Photo:REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer
Migrants warm themselves up with a fire next to their burnt tents, before leaving the makeshift migrant camp known as "the jungle" near Calais, northern France. Photo: AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti
A sink is seen in the charred debris from fires overnight that destroyed makeshift shelters and tents in the "Jungle" on the third day of their evacuation and transfer to reception centers in France. Photo: REUTERS/Neil Hall
A migrant runs past a burning makeshift shelters in the "Jungle" on the third day of their evacuation and transfer to reception centers in France. Photo: REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer
France began the mass evacuation Monday of the makeshift migrant camp known as the 'Jungle' a mammoth project to erase the humanitarian blight on its northern border, where thousands fleeing war or poverty have lived in squalor, most hoping to sneak into Britain. Photo: AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti
Migrants run past a burning makeshift shelters in the "Jungle" on the third day of their evacuation and transfer to reception centers in France, as part of the dismantlement of the camp in Calais. Photo: REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer
Smoke rises the sky as makeshift shelters and tents burn in the "Jungle" on the third day of the evacuation of migrants and their transfer to reception centers in France, as part of the dismantlement of the camp in Calais. Photo: REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer
Crews in hard hats and orange jumpsuits on Tuesday started dismantling a makeshift camp in France that has become a symbol of Europe's migrant crisis while thousands of people remained there waiting to be relocated. Photo: AP
The remains of shelters smoulder after being set alight in the makeshift migrant camp known as the 'Jungle' near Calais. Photo: AP Photo
A migrant looks up to the sky as he stands next to his tent burnt in the makeshift migrant camp. Photo: AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti

Around 100 children were waiting to be processed when the warehouse was "swiftly" closed, the charity said, adding that there were hundreds with nowhere to go.

The Help Refugees charity estimated that about 300 children were turned away when the registration centre closed and many were standing under a nearby bridge not knowing what to do.

"The authorities need to get them into safety now," it tweeted.

Several large fires started tearing through caravans, tents and shelters in the centre of the camp a little before midday on Wednesday, the third day of the operation to clear it.

Four migrants have been arrested in connection with the fires, said Patrick Visser-Bourdon, the Calais police commissioner in charge of the operation, dismissing suggestions British activists were responsible.

The sound of exploding gas canisters could be heard as the flames ripped through what had recently been makeshift homes.

Firefighters used hoses to battle the flames gutting the Peace restaurant, which days ago was serving tea to residents.

A bus for women and children and a makeshift youth centre were also burned down, according to Help Refugees.

As the fires spread, police ushered people out of the camp, many of whom held fabric to their mouths and noses to protect against the thick black smoke.

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