Welcome to the Jungle – The Calais Migrant Camp

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Aerial view of a makeshift camp
Aerial view of a makeshift camp as containers (rear) are put into place to house several hundred migrants living in what is known as the "Jungle", a squalid sprawling camp in Calais, northern France, January 17, 2016. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RTX22RMK
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Farmers and truckers have decided to blockade the French port of Calais because of the constantly growing Calais migrant camp. The protest has been going on since at least the 5th of September and highlights rising tensions. Port workers and even the mayor of Calais are also participating in the protest.

Conditions in the migrant camp can only be described as horrid. Sanitation and proper plumbing is non-existent. Pure desperation defines those willing to go through so much in hopes of illegally reaching the UK.

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Protesters block the main roads into Calais

The Port of Calais and EuroTunnel say that the protests are not causing disruptions for travelers, though news sources claim the contrary. Both the Port of Calais and EuroTunnel advise travelers to follow “alternate routes.”

The United Kingdom has announced it will fund a wall in Calais to further help curb illegal immigration.

The French government has vowed to shutdown the Calais migrant camp, but many doubt their ability to do so. Migrants hoping to hitch a ride to the UK have been squatting in unoccupied land around Calais since 1999.

A video shows how bad it really is. In the video, desperate migrants attempt to forcefully overwhelm lorries heading for the United Kingdom.

How’d it get so bad?

Migrants hoping to reach the UK have been hitching a ride through Calais for more than a decade. The Le Touquet accord, signed in 2003, allows British immigration officials to carry out border functions at Calais. France’s government has said that the treaty will not be affected by the recent Brexit vote.

Cultural differences between the people of Calais and the refugees and migrants who occupy the Calais migrant camp, often called “the Jungle,” makes assimilation difficult. The camp is completely segregated from the French community of Calais, which further increases tensions between residents. Even French law is difficult, if not impossible, to uphold within the camp.

The combination of segregation and combative attitudes means Calais’ migrant camp is effectively blocked out from the rest of the world. Aid groups are sometimes able to bring relief to the people who live there, but the situation is often too dangerous for aid workers to enter.

How can such a place be allowed to exist in a country that has established law and order and basic standards of living? It’s something that shouldn’t go unnoticed.

The Syrian Civil War and proceeding migrant crisis has only served to balloon the camp and worsen preexisting issues.

Calais Migrant Camp Incidents

The Calais migrant camp has had numerous notable incidents occur.

A fire burns at the Calais migrant "Jungle" camp after the 2015 Paris terrorist attacks
A fire burns at the Calais migrant “Jungle” camp after the 2015 Paris terrorist attacks

In November 2015, unknown arsonists set fire to parts of the Calais migrant camp in retaliation for refugees’ perceived involvement in the 2015 Paris attacks.

YouTube features hundreds of unconfirmed videos from within the camp that show hateful attitudes towards the west and extreme violence.

The following video is graphic in nature. Viewer discretion is advised.

Just five short days ago, migrants in Calais threw a log through a motorist’s windshield in what police believe was a distraction for a human smuggling operation.

Building a Wall: Politicians Divided

UK immigration minister Robert Goodwill told a Parliamentary committee Tuesday that a wall will be built in an attempt to secure the Calais roadways. The Calais wall will be 4 meters high, a kilometer long, and cost 1.9 million pounds. The wall is part of a larger 17 million pound Anglo-French effort to curb illegal immigration.

Migrants scaling a fence in Calais
Migrants scaling a fence in Calais

The plan for “the great wall of Calais” has already started garnishing criticism from aid groups and the opposition alike. Critics believe that desperate migrants will just walk down the road to get around the wall, as they have been doing with the fences that are already in place.

They believe the best way to remedy the situation in Calais is to deal with the root problem and help house and settle the migrants and refugees in the camp. That effort, however, may prove more difficult than building a wall.


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