This Article is From Oct 24, 2016

Calais Migrants Fear Violence As France Preps To Demolish 'Jungle' Camps

The migrants who see Calais as a transit to England are to be sent off to 160 different towns in France.

Calais: More than 8,000 refugees, many of whom have walked thousands of kilometres to escape from war-torn countries like Syria, Afghanistan and Sudan are lodging in the French port town of Calais before they can cross over to Britain, about 33 km away, via the English tunnel. But chances of a violent confrontation with the French authorities are building up as it gears up to tear down the 'jungle' camps.

The French Police have been slowly increasing their presence in the area. The migrants who see Calais as a transit to England are to be sent off to 160 different towns in France. Some also fear they may be sent back to the countries of their entry point as per European Union's Dublin regulations and eventually back to their home countries into the grip of violence.

Most of the refugees who have nearly crossed four to five international borders aiming to reach the UK don't want to stay in France. Among the millions fleeing violence, these migrants are among the most resilient who have walked thousands of km and have crossed deserts, climbed mountains and navigated rougher seas to reach Calais. Many have spent a fortune on agents and others have seen their family members and co-travelers being killed with no one to claim their bodies.

Islam Khan, 30, doesn't know where French authorities will send him come Monday morning. He fled his village in Afghanistan when the Taliban found out he was working with in the army. He said he walked for months to get to Calais and crossed Iran, Turkey, Bulgaria, Hungary and Italy to get to France.

Islam Khan says his dream is to find work in Britain. "We hid in the forest for three days when trying to cross the Bulgarian border. Women and children were scared at night, I felt bad. Forests are for animals not humans," he told NDTV.

"Every ten days we inform people back home about our whereabouts or the agents inform them. If they don't hear from someone for two months they conclude that the person is either in jail or dead"

Calais has also seen a record peak in the number of unaccompanied children arriving at the camp. Britain's revised immigration laws under the Dubs Agreement make a provision for vulnerable group of minors to be granted asylum.

But NGOs on the ground are worried that despite public pressure in the UK, hardly any children and teenagers are being taken in. As winters approach, many of the over 1,000 minors are at risk of getting dispersed or lost, according to volunteer organisations  Auberge des Migrants and Help Refugee in Calais.

Yusuf, 16, told NDTV he had mostly walked and sometimes took car rides to cross borders of seven European countries to get to Calais. He doesn't want to go to a French town but to the UK. He recalled how he was beaten by the Bulgarian police who unleashed dogs on them and locked them in jails for several days.

Another 16-year-old refugee Ishanullah said he fled from Afghanistan because Taliban was trying to recruit him. He said he had already applied for asylum in the UK but is being asked to do it again which he has not been able to do yet. He said he has no idea where he will be taken next week.

Many in UK raised doubts regarding the real age of these teenagers. Some right wing MPs suggested dental checks be carried out to determine their age. But the UK Home office had reportedly ruled out "unethical" dental checks on refugees.

In the last few weeks, many got injured making last ditch attempts to cross over to Britain via the euro tunnel.

On the eve of their evacuation not everyone is distraught in the camps. Some Afghan migrants were playing their daily cricket match alongside the barbed wire fence.