French authorities report ‘spectacular’ rise in Calais migrant camp population

Migrant Camp

Migrant Camp

Local authorities in the French port city of Calais on Friday said the number of migrants living in the infamous “Jungle” camp has seen a “spectacular” rise over the summer, increasing by 53 percent in just two months.

At the middle of August, authorities counted more than 6,900 people in the camp – the highest number since it was created sixteen months ago. In June 2016, an official census reported 4,480 people.

Earlier this month, however, local humanitarian aid groups, L’Auberge des Migrants and Help Refugees, took their own census, which counted more than 9,100 people.

Local authorities have previously said their goal was to reduce the number of camp inhabitants to about 1,500.

Most of the refugees and migrants in the Calais camp come from conflict zones like Afghanistan, Sudan, Iraq or other countries with poor human rights records, and have come to Calais with the hope of sneaking across the English Channel to Britain, where many have relatives or the hope of obtaining work.

Aid agencies say the recent increase can be attributed to an influx of migrants who have travelled from southern Europe.

The Jungle camp, which sprung up in April 2015, quickly grew into a slum village consisting of mainly tents and makeshift huts. In winter 2016, authorities decided to dismantle the southern part of it in a bid to encourage the displaced to instead move into heated containers or tents on the northern rim of the camp, or accept bus rides to welcome centres elsewhere around France in an attempt to ease the pressure on Calais.

Some 750 shipping containers, including heating and sockets for electricity, have been set up.