Calais ‘Jungle’ on fire as migrants depart

Fire breaks out in the Jungle camp as migrants prepare to leave . Picture:  Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
Fire breaks out in the Jungle camp as migrants prepare to leave . Picture: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
Have your say

The operation to clear the Calais “Jungle” camp was due to end last night with French authorities declaring it a success.

Buses taking refugees and migrants to their new homes will stop and demolition of the camp is to be scaled up today.

The announcement came as a number of fires swept through the settlement on the third day of the operation to clear it.

A huge plume of dark grey smoke could be seen from a distance billowing over the sprawling camp as makeshift shelters that were recently homes burned.

The fires were blamed on disgruntled camp residents.

Pascal Brice, head of the office for refugees and stateless people, said: “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.”

More than 5,000 migrants and refugees have been bussed to registration centres, he said, with around 100 people waiting to be transported. A spokeswoman for the local prefecture said around 1,500 minors had passed through the registration warehouse.

She added that the rate of demolition would be scaled up today, with larger machinery moving onto the site.

Save the Children said it was “extremely concerned” about children both in camp and those who had not been registered as the camp went up in flames.

And the Help Refugees charity reported that unaccompanied children were being sent back to the camp as registration of minors had stopped for the day.

Multiple large blazes started tearing through caravans, tents and shelters in the centre of the camp a little before midday on Wednesday.

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

The sound of exploding gas canisters could be heard as the flames ripped through what had recently been migrants’ and refugees’ 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.