Woman slashes her wrists as riot police clear 'Jungle'
Published 02/03/2016 | 02:30
A woman who was protesting the demolition of the Calais 'Jungle' threatened to slash her wrists as police moved in to destroy the migrant camp yesterday.
The woman, who was standing on the roof of a makeshift house, warned police not to approach her and then cut her wrists when they tried to arrest her male companion.
The confrontation took place during the second day of trouble as demolition teams backed by riot police moved in to resume clearance of a huge swathe of the squalid migrant camp.
Refugees set fire to their tents and pelted police with stones as their homes were torn down on Monday, but yesterday proved to be even more tense as the demolition workers moved into areas of the camp that are dotted with makeshift shops and restaurants.
Overnight, around 150 migrants threw rocks at vehicles heading for England on a port road which runs next to the sprawling camp that is home to several thousand people from Afghanistan, the Middle East and Africa hoping to make it to Britain. Police responded with tear gas.
Several trucks and cars were blocked by migrants on the stretch of road overlooking a piece of ground which had previously been part of the Jungle.
Police arrived at the camp at dawn and told migrants in the southern section that they had to move out or they would be arrested.
The incidents follow the first day of the destruction of the southern part of the camp, which began after a court petition by charities to stop it was rejected last week.
French officials say about 1,000 migrants will be affected by the eviction plan but aid organisations say more than 3,000 people live in the southern zone.
"It's infinitely sad to see the waste of so much work that we've done in the past months," said Maya Konforti of the Auberge des Migrants charity.
Volunteers and aid workers, many of them from Britain, have spent months trying to improve conditions in the camp, built on a former toxic waste dump on the outskirts of the northern French port town.
At least four people, including one British activist from the No Borders group, were arrested during the unrest sparked on Monday by the start of the demolition, and five police officers suffered minor injuries.
The French government says the removal of the migrants intent on reaching Britain is a "humanitarian operation" and that they are being offered accommodation in containers recently installed nearby or in migrant centres elsewhere in the country.
But many migrants, most of whom have fled war, poverty or persecution, are reluctant to take up the offer because they believe this would require them to claim asylum in France and give up their hopes of travelling to Britain.
The clearance operation is the most dramatic step France has ever taken to end Calais' migrant problem, which has festered for years, fuelling support for the far Right and causing tension with Britain.
Britain has put substantial pressure on France to stem the flow of migrants getting across the Channel, and has funded a huge increase in security measures around the port and tunnel in Calais.
The Jungle has also played into fraught discussions about Britain's possible exit from the European Union.
The demolition of the southern part of the camp comes ahead of talks tomorrow between French President Francois Hollande and British Prime Minister David Cameron. (Daily Telegraph, London)