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As fires burn through Calais ‘Jungle’, UNICEF urges protection of children remaining in the camp

Thursday, October 27, 2016 15:57
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Desdemona Despair

Firefighters battle a fire in the Calais refugee camp known as 'the Jungle', 25 October 2016. Photo: Francois Nascimbeni / AFP / Getty Images

27 October 2016 (UN) – “Deeply troubled” that last night, while fires burned in parts of the Calais refugee and migrant camp that has become known as “the Jungle” burned, many children were forced to sleep out in the cold, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) today underscored that authorities on the ground must guarantee their protection.

“Reports today from volunteers in Calais that some children have been escorted away by police for not having a wristband are shocking,” said a joint statement from the French and United Kingdom National Committees for UNICEF.

With the situation for some children in Calais more dangerous than ever, despite the promises of the French and UK governments to keep children safe throughout demolition of the camp, UNICEF urged stepped up action to ensure their protection.

“Despite queuing for hours yesterday, dozens of children were reportedly unable to register and get their official wristbands from the authorities before the registration closed. This kind of situation is exactly what exposes children to traffickers and smugglers, and puts them in dangerous situations without food, shelter and any support,” UNICEF warned.

In all this, the agency urged the authorities to guarantee the protection and best interests of every child. “After so much progress has been made to bring them to safety, it would be unacceptable for children to now slip through the cracks.”

As fires burn through Calais ‘Jungle,’ UNICEF urges protection of children remaining in the camp


A migrant walks past a shack set ablaze in the Calais refugee camp known as 'the Jungle', on Tuesday night, 25 October 2016. Photo: Philippe Huguen / AFP / Gerry Images

PARIS/LONDON, 27 October 2016 – “UNICEF is deeply troubled that last night, with the camp on fire, many children were forced to sleep out in exposed and cold conditions. And reports today from volunteers in Calais that some children have been escorted away by police for not having a wristband are shocking.

“The UK and French governments promised to keep children safe throughout the demolition. Yet right now, the situation for some children in Calais is more dangerous than ever.

“Despite queuing for hours yesterday, dozens of children were reportedly unable to register and get their official wristbands from the authorities before the registration closed. This kind of situation is exactly what exposes children to traffickers and smugglers, and puts them in dangerous situations without food, shelter and any support.

“Today, and moving forwards, the authorities must guarantee the protection and best interests of every child. After so much progress has been made to bring them to safety, it would be unacceptable for children to now slip through the cracks.”

UNICEF calls for urgent protection of all children that remain in the Calais camp


Firefighters struggle to control the dozens of fires tearing through the refugee camp in Calais known as 'the Jungle', 25 October 2016. Photo: Saskya Vandoorne / CNN

By Bryony Jones and Angela Dewan
26 October 2016

Calais, France (CNN) – Migrants torched dozens of makeshift shelters in “The Jungle” refugee camp in France on Wednesday, sending raging fires through the heart of the settlement that firefighters were struggling to extinguish.

A single fire was lit in the early hours of the morning, but by 11 a.m. local time, dozens of tents and shacks were ablaze — a suffocating blanket of black smoke over the camp.

The fires followed several nights of clashes this week between police and migrants who refused to leave the camp, as French authorities began busing residents out by the thousands and demolition teams started tearing the camp down.

“We had anticipated this by pre-positioning firefighters as part of this operation and also passed the message to migrants and community representatives not to set fire to the shelters,” a Calais prefecture spokesperson said.

“The cleaning company will today continue the removal of empty shelters to limit the risk of further fires.”

The Jungle has become a wretched symbol of Europe's migrant crisis, and France has tried to shut it down several times, only to be denied by the courts. Migrants have long refused to leave the camp, which sits some 30 miles across the Eurotunnel to the UK, one of the more desirable countries for refugees in the region. [more]

Calais Jungle: Fires rage through camp as migrants torch shelters

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