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Refugee camp sees surge in population


10-24-2016 12:15 BJT

A sharp increase in the number of refugees arriving this year pushed authorities to close the “Jungle” camp in Calais, France, which has been plagued by violence and crime.

There has also been a spike in the number of unaccompanied minors. Charities monitoring the situation fear the worst for some of these children and are scrambling to find more of them homes.

The refugee camp known as the “Jungle” is on the outskirts of the city of Calais, France, just across the English Channel from the United Kingdom.

Residents hail from lands as far away as Sudan, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. They struggle this far in the hopes of reaching the UK, often dangerously, through the Channel Tunnel.

Conditions are rough. Many live in shipping containers. Clean water and food are often hard to come by. The camp has become known for crime and clashes with police. Its population has risen quickly this year, putting pressure on the French government to respond.

Solid figures on the population of the unofficial refugee camp are hard to come by, given its shifting nature. But local government officials, and British charity Help Refugees, have been tracking them as best as they can. Censuses conducted since summer this year show the number of refugees swelling to 7,000 in July. This trend has continued, rising to most recent estimates of 10,000. Most of the arrivals are men.

A major area of concern is unaccompanied minors. Help Refugees reported the disappearance of 129 unaccompanied minors last spring. Charities monitoring the camp fear the children may have fallen victim to human trafficking.

The most recent estimates on the number of unaccompanied minors range from 1,200 to 1,300. The UK has begun to accept minors, but efforts have been slow to take off. Another British charity, Citizens UK, has brought 60 children from Calais and connected them with relatives in Britain.

The Jungle dates back to before the current migration crisis. Its demolition may be imminent, but that does not mean the camp will not rise again.

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