Tensions high inside ‘Jungle’ refugee camp as demolition nears

Updated 11:05 PM EDT, Sun October 23, 2016
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MYTILENE, GREECE - MAY 20: A refugee child plays alone at the Moria refugee camp on May 20, 2018 in Mytilene, Greece. Despite being built to hold only 2,500 people, the camp on the Greek island of Lesbos is home to over 6,000 asylum seekers who crossed the Aegean Sea from Turkey's nearby shore by boat, usually at night to avoid interception. Although the numbers of arrivals are lower than at the beginning of the crisis in 2015, when Syrians and Iraqis fled ISIS-controlled strongholds, boatloads of refugees from those countries and other troubled areas continue to land there, and critics say the local governments have yet to manage the situation, leading the squalid conditions at Moria to be seen as symbolic of poorly-managed policy. The camp, on the site of a former military base, is comprised of shipping containers, tents, and improvised shelters of wooden pallets and tarps, whose residents stranded there complain of poor food, power failures, disease, lack of medical care, and poisonous snakes as they wait to obtain transfer to the mainland and less temporary legal status.  (Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)
Adam Berry/Getty Images Europe/Getty Images
MYTILENE, GREECE - MAY 20: A refugee child plays alone at the Moria refugee camp on May 20, 2018 in Mytilene, Greece. Despite being built to hold only 2,500 people, the camp on the Greek island of Lesbos is home to over 6,000 asylum seekers who crossed the Aegean Sea from Turkey's nearby shore by boat, usually at night to avoid interception. Although the numbers of arrivals are lower than at the beginning of the crisis in 2015, when Syrians and Iraqis fled ISIS-controlled strongholds, boatloads of refugees from those countries and other troubled areas continue to land there, and critics say the local governments have yet to manage the situation, leading the squalid conditions at Moria to be seen as symbolic of poorly-managed policy. The camp, on the site of a former military base, is comprised of shipping containers, tents, and improvised shelters of wooden pallets and tarps, whose residents stranded there complain of poor food, power failures, disease, lack of medical care, and poisonous snakes as they wait to obtain transfer to the mainland and less temporary legal status. (Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)
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Habiba Mohamed, 38, and Abdalla Munye, 44, arrived in the United States just two days before President Donald Trump's inauguration. 
Their 20-year-old daughter, Batula Ramadan, was supposed to join them in Clarkston, Georgia, next week. But the Somalian refugees were devastated to learn that their daughter's trip was canceled due to Trump's executive order. Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, they said they hoped the first lady could convince her husband to change his mind.
"My daughter right now is in a lot of pain. She's unable to express herself because of how much she's crying," Mohamed said. "I'm afraid she feels I abandoned her."


Decatur, Ga. on Tuesday, January 31, 2017.
Melissa Golden/Redux for CNN
Habiba Mohamed, 38, and Abdalla Munye, 44, arrived in the United States just two days before President Donald Trump's inauguration. Their 20-year-old daughter, Batula Ramadan, was supposed to join them in Clarkston, Georgia, next week. But the Somalian refugees were devastated to learn that their daughter's trip was canceled due to Trump's executive order. Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, they said they hoped the first lady could convince her husband to change his mind. "My daughter right now is in a lot of pain. She's unable to express herself because of how much she's crying," Mohamed said. "I'm afraid she feels I abandoned her." Decatur, Ga. on Tuesday, January 31, 2017.
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Refugees and migrants cross by boat the Aegean sea from Turkey, to reach the Greek island of Lesbos, on October 31, 2015. AFP PHOTO / ARIS MESSINIS        (Photo credit should read ARIS MESSINIS/AFP/Getty Images)
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Story highlights

"The Jungle," a makeshift camp for refugees and migrants, to be torn down by end of year

Thousands of residents will be evicted and offered the chance to apply for asylum in France

More than 1,000 riot police officers have been deployed

(CNN) —  

Tensions are high inside “The Jungle,” a sprawling makeshift refugee camp in the French port town of Calais, where authorities are to begin evicting migrants Monday.

Authorities have given the thousands of people living there two options: seek asylum in France or return to their country of origin.

Some 6,900 refugees, more than 1,200 of them children, live in the encampment, a jumble of squalid tents and temporary shelters.

Clashes between migrants and police erupted Saturday night at the camp, said Sue Jex, head of operations for the charity Care 4 Calais. She said a number of buildings inside the camp were destroyed by fire.

Byrony Jones/CNN

By Sunday night, CNN counted at least seven vans loaded with riot police, armed with tear gas, arriving on the scene.

On the outskirts of the camp, migrants gathered around small fires on the gravel path and in a dumpster. One person taunted a group of police officers near one of the small fires and attempted to film them on his mobile phone. Police charged toward him until he backed off and moved away. At least six small fires were spotted within the camp and its outskirts.

Byrony Jones/CNN

A large number of police are on hand to prevent crowd problems. More than 1,000 riot police officers were deployed to the camp Sunday ahead of the closure, an Interior Ministry spokesman told CNN. Horse-mounted police were seen near the camp.

Calais ‘Jungle’ migrant camp: What you need to know

“It’s very tense because people know that change is coming,” Jex told CNN. “There is a real acceptance that the camp is going (away).”

The plan is to have the camp completely torn down by December, according to the French Ministry of the Interior.

Many in “The Jungle” are reluctant to register as refugees in France because their preferred destination is Britain.

“I try to stay in England but I don’t have money to go in England or to stay in France. I think it is so hard for me, it is not easy …” one Sudanese migrant said. “Only God can help me right now.”

A volunteer French teacher at a school in the camp said people are worried because they do not know where they will go.

“They have no idea which place they’re headed to and above all if they are going to stay with their friends,” said Michel Abecassis. “We are all very worried, I am very worried. A lot of people are here with very close friends and of course their hope is to be in a reception center with their friends, and not to just be sent anywhere.”