7 Photos That Show the Heartbreak of Refugee Kids in Calais’ Jungle
Innocent children are among the thousands of people who’ve fled war and sectarian violence in Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea, and North Africa—only to end up in the “Jungle,” the notorious refugee camp in Calais, France. The camp has become an international symbol of the refugee crisis, the largest in Europe since World War II, and France has long been fed up with the presence of as many as 10,000 refugees in the port city.
On Monday, as French authorities began a three-day operation to clear and demolish the camp, human rights activists expressed concern about the fate of the roughly 1,300 unaccompanied refugee kids being relocated from the Jungle’s tents and shanties.
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“I think the concern is that there has been a real last-minute process, however, to make alternative places for people to go, but particularly for the children—and there are still hundreds of children and teenagers still stuck in the camp,” Yvette Cooper, the chair of the United Kingdom’s home affairs committee, told BBC Radio 4’s Today program on Monday.
Approximately 200 children were transported to the U.K. in the week leading up to the start of the camp’s demolition. Plans to disperse more kids to the U.K. and to refugee housing across France were halted on Monday because of worries that children weren’t being processed properly and could “slip into the arms of the smuggler gangs [and] the traffickers,” Cooper said.
The operation to raze the camp “now risks putting vulnerable children at greater risk,” Kevin Watkins, the chief executive of Save the Children, said in a statement Monday. “We are deeply concerned that children are being directed to stay in an area in the camp called Le CAP, which children’s agencies do not have access to and which may expose them to violence or abuse. There is no way the demolition can start until all children [have] been properly identified and provided for. To do otherwise would be unconscionable.”
The following seven images provide a glimpse of what life has been like for children in Calais and what they’re experiencing as they vacate the camp.