Thousands of UK-bound migrants left homeless in Calais were flooding into new ‘Jungle’-style camps yesterday in the heart of Paris.
Charities reported an influx of arrivals in the French capital. Most had refused to go to official centers set up by authorities following the demolition of the Calais Jungle.
A large cluster of tents has sprung up around the Stalingrad Metro station, a ten-minute walk from the Eurostar hub at Gare du Nord.
‘It is already being called the Paris Jungle,’ said Mohammed Hussein, a 20-year-old Ethiopian sharing a tent with four friends.
‘All of us had trouble getting to England from Calais, but we’ll now be able to try again from here. Our dream is to get to England as quickly as possible.’
Colombe Brossel, Paris deputy mayor in charge of security, admitted: ‘We have seen a big increase since the start of the week.
‘Last night our teams counted 40 to 50 new tents there in two days.’ She said there were now 500 to 750.
‘It’s not a huge explosion in numbers but there is a clear increase. Some of them come from Calais, others from other places.’
But France’s asylum chief Pascal Brice denied that the arrivals in Paris meant there had been a wholesale relocation from the Jungle to the capital.
He explained: ‘There might be some movements at the margins towards Paris but what is crucial is that those 6,000 people have been protected.’
There are fears that other former camps on the French coast could also see the return of migrants. Migrants at the Jungle have said they would rather die than give up on their dreams of reaching Britain, despite being offered asylum in France.
A Somalian family in the new tent city said the destruction of the Jungle would ‘never stop us’.
Najib Omar and his wife Leyla, both 27, said: ‘It is not a place for a family, but we will stay here until we can finally get to England.’ The pair have an 18-month-old son called Imran.
Abdulhamid Ediss, a 20-year-old from Eritrea, said: ‘We’ve been in Calais for a number of months, but were forced out of the Jungle. France does not want us, but we can continue to plan our trips to England from here.’
Hocine Djabella, a restaurant owner, said the tent city was scaring off customers: ‘I have lived in the area for 25 years and have never seen such a terrible situation. They have taken a serious problem in one part of France and just displaced it to another.’
A total of 5,596 people have been evacuated since the operation to raze the Calais Jungle began on Monday morning.
While most have been bussed to 450 resettlement centers around France, others are thought to have travelled away independently. Paris’s first official refugee camp is due to open within the next few days.
In June, police officers wearing body armour and carrying shields raided a makeshift camp, located near the Eurostar terminal, and ordered its inhabitants on to coaches. But their efforts to permanently expel migrants from the area have been ineffective.
October was a record monthly high for the number of migrants arriving in Italy in recent years. The interior ministry in Rome said 26,161 people – almost all from West Africa and the Horn of Africa – have arrived this month.