What next for refugees after demolition of the Calais camp?BMJ 2016; 355 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i6192 (Published 22 November 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;355:i6192
- Frédérique Drogoul, mental health adviser,
- Samuel Hanryon, communications officer
- Médecins Sans Frontières
For most of 2016, whenever one of us visited the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) project in the refugee settlement in Calais, France, we would find new fences, new walls, and new areas where trees were cut down to enable police surveillance of residents. Surrounded by barriers on all sides, “the jungle”—the name for this migrant camp located near a main port for crossing the English Channel into the UK—was built on a former industrial waste site. It is no place to live.
Last month’s dismantlement of the 6000 plus person camp began relatively calmly. Thousands of residents had fled before authorities began the process of moving them to temporary “reception centres” around France. When the eviction started, the general mood ranged from relief, particularly among those who hoped to settle in France, to resignation or anger among others who hoped to join relatives or friends in the UK.
But the situation quickly degenerated. Much of the camp was burnt to the ground, and many people had to avoid the fires to find somewhere to sleep. Official plans …