News / Europe

    France's 'Jungle' Adds to Europe's Wider Migrant Quandary

    FILE - Migrants walk among tents in a muddy field at the Jungle near Calais, France, Feb. 3, 2016.
    FILE - Migrants walk among tents in a muddy field at the Jungle near Calais, France, Feb. 3, 2016.
    Lisa Bryant

    Authorities in Belgium reportedly detained dozens of migrants trying to cross the border from France on Wednesday, adding to a widening European Union migrant crisis and further threatening an already-shaky passport-free Schengen zone.

    That dilemma was highlighted Wednesday by Amnesty International, which denounced Europe's response to the tens of thousands of migrants who continue to pour to its borders as "shameful."

    More than 80 mostly Afghan asylum seekers were detained near the North Sea coastal town of La Panne in the Flanders region, Belgium's Le Soir newspaper reported. Most had come from the French port town of Calais, where government efforts to raze a squalid tent camp known as the “Jungle" have sparked outcry on the part of migrant rights activists.

    Police officers on horses patrol the dunes on the French-Belgian border in Adinkerke, Belgium, Feb. 24, 2016.
    Police officers on horses patrol the dunes on the French-Belgian border in Adinkerke, Belgium, Feb. 24, 2016.

    The camp has sheltered thousands of asylum seekers in recent months — the current figure is about 4,000 — who have been trying to cross the English Channel to Britain where they have family or friends, or simply hope for a better welcome.

    Border checks

    On Tuesday, Belgian authorities announced they had "temporarily departed from Schengen controls" and re-established border checks, fearing the Calais migrants would simply cross the border into Belgium, hoping for better luck in reaching Britain.

    Facing stiff border barriers in Calais, migrants often try heading to the Belgian port town of Zeebrugge, hoping for better luck in reaching Britain by ferry, or by truck via the Chunnel.

    "The goal is not to have another Jungle in Belgium, on the Belgian coast," Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders told French radio Wednesday.

    The migrants detained Wednesday were asked whether they wanted to seek asylum in Belgium. Those responding affirmatively were sent to Brussels to make a formal application, Le Soir reported.

    Fate of Jungle

    In France, the fate of Calais’ Jungle residents is on hold, pending a local court ruling on a plan to evacuate and bulldoze part of the camp this week.

    FILE - A migrant walks past a painting by English graffiti artist Banksy, at the entrance of the Calais refugee camp in France, in Calais, northern France, Monday, Dec. 21, 2015.
    FILE - A migrant walks past a painting by English graffiti artist Banksy, at the entrance of the Calais refugee camp in France, in Calais, northern France, Monday, Dec. 21, 2015.

    Authorities originally gave Jungle residents until Tuesday evening to leave the southern part of the camp and be resettled in heated containers or other shelters that they say offer better conditions than the muddy shanty town, and that allow the migrants to have their asylum claims treated.

    But critics have protested the move, saying the alternative is far from ideal, and offers the migrants no opportunity to seek asylum in Britain.

    On Sunday, British celebrities including actor Jude Law and playwright Tom Stoppard visited the Jungle to draw attention to the plight.

    In an open letter published in Le Monde newspaper a day later, dozens of leading figures and humanitarian associations called the containers "inhuman."

    "One can either be standing up or lying down; furniture is banned, all intimate behavior is impossible," they wrote.

    ‘Humanitarian crisis’

    For many Calais-area residents, the migrants are increasingly unwelcome. While some have donated clothes and time to their cause, others have protested for their eviction. Prosecutors questioned three men this week for allegedly attacking the migrants with iron bars.

    FILE - Activists against migrants shout slogans as they participate in a protest organized by the anti-Islam group Pegida in Calais, France, Feb. 6, 2016.
    FILE - Activists against migrants shout slogans as they participate in a protest organized by the anti-Islam group Pegida in Calais, France, Feb. 6, 2016.

    The asylum seekers have also been a years-long bone of contention between France and Britain. Well before the Jungle, there was Sangatte, a Calais-area camp closed down in 2002. Opponents warned at the time that the asylum seekers would simply move elsewhere — but the problem would remain.

    "This didn't just appear,” said Yves Pascouau, migration analyst at the European Policy Centre in Brussels. “It's a 15-year-long problem and it's poisoning the French political landscape."

    With its fallout now stretching into Belgium, Calais is just the latest chapter of Europe's widening and unresolved migration crisis. During a summit in Brussels last week, EU leaders failed to overcome deep divisions over how to handle the influx that has seen rising walls, tightening border checks and increasingly bitter diplomatic bickering.

    "Calais is a humanitarian crisis which France must address quickly, because it's not sustainable to have people living in such a desperate situation," Pascouau said, "but it's only one element of a bigger issue. Europe is not able to find the proper solution to the migrant crisis because European Union member states have not been willing to prepare for it."

    EU leaders are now planning to hold a special summit with Turkey on March 7, to address their options in stemming the flow.

    You May Like

    Escalation of Media Crackdown in Turkey Heightens Concerns

    Critics see 'a new dark age' as arrests of journalists, closures of media outlets by Erdogan government mount

    Russia Boasts of Troop Buildup on Flank, Draws Flak

    Russian military moves counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions, State Department says

    What Take-out Food Reveals About American History

    From fast-food restaurants to pizza delivery, here's what the history of take-out food tells us about changes in American society

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora