Everything you need to know about the clearing of the Calais camp

French president Francois Hollande announced last week that the Jungle camp at Calais would be closed before the winter sets in, dispersing its 9,000 residents elsewhere in France and abroad.

With estimates of over 1,300 children living in the camp, according to Home Office minister Baroness Williams, concerns had been raised that some may be lost or vulnerable to traffickers in the upheaval of a move.

So what's going on and how did we get here?

What is the Jungle camp?

The entrance to the Sangatte camp in 2001 (Matthew Fearn/PA)
(Matthew Fearn/PA)

This isn't the first camp to form in Calais. In 1999, the Sangatte refugee camp opened. According to the Red Cross which administered the camp, at its peak it had 2,000 residents, over double the population of the village it was named after.

Sangatte was closed in 2002 following an agreement between the British and French governments. Since the camp was closed a steady trickle of people have arrived and built makeshift camps in the areas around the port and Eurotunnel in Calais.

These numbers escalated as conflicts in the Middle East worsened, sparking a refugee crisis the likes of which have not been seen in decades.

As refugees arrived in the area the makeshift camp, made from tents and bits of tarpaulin, grew.

How big is it?

The Jungle camp as of October 2016 (Thibault Camus/AP)
(Thibault Camus/AP)

The camp is a little smaller than it was at the beginning of this year.

In February, French authorities cleared a section to the south of the camp, building heated containers to house 1,500 people instead.

The heated units from above (Thibault Camus/AP)
(Thibault Camus/AP)

However, official estimates put the current population of the camp at around 9,000 people, mostly from conflict zones like Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Sudan.

Why is it being emptied?

Minibuses and coaches await to take camp residents to processing centres (Gareth Fuller/PA)
(Gareth Fuller/PA)

Francois Hollande announced the decision to close the camp last month, saying that the camp was "not acceptable" and "extremely difficult" for refugees fleeing war zones.

To some, the site has become a symbol of the French government's failure to tackle Europe's migrant crisis and a target of criticism from conservative and far-right rivals seeking to unseat him.

Local residents had also staged demonstrations during the summer asking for the camps to be disbanded.

Is the UK taking in any of the refugees?

One of the teenagers arriving in the UK (Jonathan Brady/PA)
(Jonathan Brady/PA)

Fourteen children aged between 14 and 17 arrived in Britain on Monday morning as the start of a fast-track system for making sure kids with British links could get over to the UK before the camp is cleared this week.

The Home Office has said the young people will be assessed and screened before they are reunited with family based in the UK.

Citizens UK, which said it has reunited 60 children from Calais with relatives in Britain since March, claim to have identified hundreds of children in the camp who have a right to come to the UK.

Baroness Williams, a Home Office minister, said around a third of the children in the camp are eligible to come to the UK during a debate on the matter in the House of Lords on Wednesday.

Bringing refugee children over hasn't been popular with everyone. Photos emerged of the people being brought over, sparking speculation that they were in fact older than 18. Tory MP David Davies has got himself into hot water by claiming the refugees "don't look like children" and later suggesting that they should have mandatory dental checks to ensure they are under 18.

This suggestion has been criticised by the British Dental Association, which called it "inappropriate and unethical".

Where are the rest of the camp's residents going then?

(Gareth Fuller/PA)
(Gareth Fuller/PA)

The closure plan will see 40 to 50 people being held at each of the reception centres in regions across France for up to four months while authorities investigate their cases. Those who do not seek asylum will be deported.

Some families began leaving the camp bound for communities in the South of France on Monday.

Read Full Story