Aid organizations have reached their wits’ end in the Calais “Jungle,” a massive refugee camp in northern France that’s in the process of being destroyed. Dozens of unaccompanied minors at the camp have yet to be cared for. Many slept outdoors Wednesday night, while others were arrested Thursday for trying to find food.
The camp is by no means empty, contrary to what French authorities have announced. The people who are still there have yet to be registered or transferred out.
“Many are minors who spent the night sleeping outside alone in a burning camp,” Clare Moseley, founder of the nonprofit Care4Calais, told The WorldPost. “They need help now.”
“Registration is closed, the jungle is being demolished and the [container camp] for children is full,” Dorothy Sang, a humanitarian adviser with Save the Children, told The WorldPost. “There is literally nowhere for children to go.”
Children as young as 6 were turned away from registration Wednesday night, according to Sang, meaning they had to sleep out in the street. Others took their chances and went back to the area of the camp that’s burning down.
“There’s never been a more dangerous time for children to be alone in the ‘Jungle.'" Dorothy Sang, Save The Children
“I spent the entire night here,” one young Afghan told Agence France-Presse. “I am in the queue for minors to go to England. I have family there.”
French authorities promised that buses would be arriving to relocate children on Thursday. “We’ve been standing here for hours and have been pushed up the road,” Sang said. “There are no buses on their way.”
Riot police have blocked off the roads, she said, and they chased away anyone who attempted to walk to over to the registration area.
“There’s never been a more dangerous time for children to be alone in the ‘Jungle,’” Sang said.
A few teenagers were even arrested Thursday morning as they went to get food from the women and children’s shelter, according to Sang.
Authorities told Save the Children that anyone not wearing a wristband indicating they’d been registered would face arrest, including children.
Fabienne Buccio, prefect of the Pas-de-Calais region, said that the people who hadn’t yet been registered had not been living in the “Jungle” but had come from Paris, Germany and other places.
It’s not clear how many children remain in the “Jungle.” The container camp, set up to shelter children during the demolition while authorities figured out where they would go, has a capacity of 1,500 and is currently full, Sang said.
The demolition began Monday. France’s government has been moving refugees and migrants this week into temporary welcome centers across the country. As of Wednesday, 5,596 people had been transferred out of the “Jungle,” interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve said.
The options available to unaccompanied minors are few and far between.
France and the U.K. are working together to reunite some unaccompanied minors with their family members in Britain. Approximately 400 of them are eligible to be moved to the U.K. as part of the European Union’s Dublin regulation, according to Human Rights Watch.
A handful of older teens, aged 14 to 17, have already been transferred, a Home Office spokesperson said last week.
For the hundreds of others without any family in Britain, their fate is still up in the air.
The “Jungle” is expected to be totally cleared by Monday, Buccio said.