Calais 'Jungle' demolitions: Why is the camp being destroyed, and where will the refugees go?

Over the past two days, demolitions have begun in the so-called 'Jungle' camp outside Calais, which is home to thousands of refugees and migrants.

Riot police clashed with residents on Monday and Tuesday as they attempted to clear the site. Wooden shacks were set alight and teargas was fired on those who tried to resist. Bulldozers quickly followed.

The Jungle has become a not-so-temporary home to thousands trying to enter the UK but now little remains of the sprawling southern section of the camp and campaigners have condemned the way the demolitions have been carried out. Charity CalAid said: "French Minister of the Interior, Bernard Cazenove [sic], promised 'humanitarian' methods of relocating the residents of the camp – there is nothing humanitarian in the actions of the authorities".

But how did we get here?

At least six makeshift shelters have been set on fire in protest against the partial dismantlement of the camp.Reuters

Why are so many living in such appalling conditions?

Many of the camp's residents are fleeing violence and persecution, mainly from countries in the Middle East such as Syria and Iraq, which are in the grip of ISIS. Others are seeking asylum from war-torn countries such as Afghanistan and Eritrea.

Some others in the camp are seeking a better life for themselves and their families after leaving poverty-stricken countries, including a large proportion from sub-Saharan Africa.

Why are they so desperate to live in Britain, why not seek asylum in France?

There are a variety of reasons why the UK is perceived as a more attractive option.

Many believe the British economy to be stronger, and therefore hope for better job opportunities. The British benefit system is also widely believed to be more generous than the French, although this is not entirely true.

However, many others want to come to Britain because they have relatives already living here or because of other pre-existing ties. For instance, English is commonly spoken in Eritrea so many want to settle in the UK where they already understand the language.

Why do the French authorities want to demolish the camp?

The French prefecture, part of the country's Interior Office, has long opposed the sprawling camp's existence, saying conditions are unsanitary, undignified and present a security risk. French police and security officials have spent millions of euros defending the Channel Tunnel from repeated attempts of residents trying to enter the UK illegally. 

The demolition was given the go ahead by a court in Lille last week which ruled an eviction was legal.

Where can residents go?

French authorities say they have provided heated shipping containers in the northern section of the camp for displaced residents, or they may move to one of 98 other centres around France.

However campaigners have said there not nearly enough places. There is a dispute over the number being evicted but Help Refugees, a charity which claims to be the only organisation to have undertaken a full census of the camp, says 3,455 will be made homeless by the demolitions.

French authorities have confirmed there is alternative accommodation available for only 1,156 refugees in the whole of France. As the charity points out, this leaves 2,229 without any option for accommodation.