Calais 'Jungle': 'Pregnant' refugee slits wrists as makeshift home is demolished by police on second day of operation

The woman's condition was not immediately confirmed but reporters said she was conscious

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The Independent Online

A "pregnant" refugee has slit her wrists in an apparent suicide attempt after failing to stop her makeshift home being demolished in the Calais “Jungle” camp.

The Associated Press reported that the womanm said to be pregnant, stood on their shelter’s rooftop as demolition teams moved in for a second day of clearing work on Tuesday.

The couple, believed to be Kurdish-Iranians, warned police not to come closer but as officers moved in, the woman sliced her wrists. 

Her condition was not immediately known but reporters at the scene said she was conscious as the man was beaten with batons and both were removed from the roof.

Children flee as Calais Jungle evicted by police with tear gas

A crowd of activists were kept behind a police cordon as the eviction unfolded and could be heard crying and shouting for police to stop.

The desperate scenes came as authorities continued to demolish an area of the squalid camp where thousands of asylum seekers from the Middle East and Africa are living as they attempt to reach the UK.

Local councillors claim no more than 1,000 people are affected by the eviction plan but humanitarian groups have put the total at more than triple that figure after conducting their own survey.

Tanya Freedman, from Help Refugees, told The Independent her group’s research put the total at around 3,500 and counted the available places for relocation at just 1,156 in the whole of France.

Only 300 places remain in shipping containers converted into refugee housing in Calais, she said, while much of the other accommodation being offered to migrants was in holiday camps elsewhere that will be turned back over to tourists in the spring.

Rumours that migrants being relocated will be forced to apply for asylum in France, rather than continue to the UK, or face being deported were causing refugees to reject the scheme.

“Some people are packing their bags and leaving but they aren’t getting on the buses provided by the prefecture and we don’t know where they’re going,” Ms Freedman added.

“A lot of families are just moving into the northern part of the camp, there’s a feeling of resignation.”

Around 100 tents and shelters were destroyed on Monday as angry clashes broke out and fires swept through the camp.

French riot police in front of a burning shelter at the start of the demolition of a part of the Jungle migrant camp in Calais, France, 29 February 2016.

Riot police fired tear gas at crowds of asylum seekers who reportedly threw stones and other missiles, while others were seen attempting to stop lorries heading towards the Channel Tunnel and board before being forced back off the motorway overnight.

Ginny Howells, UK emergency manager for Save the Children, described the scene at the camp as “very chaotic” on Tuesday morning. 

“They are all just incredibly worried and anxious,” she said.

“People are dispersing into the northern part of the camps - it's really just moving the problem to other camps, which are in a worse condition."

Ms Howells claimed children taking shelter in a Save the Children youth centre on the site had been affected by tear gas on Monday.

Refugees block a truck on the highway near the so-called Calais Jungle make-shift camp at the start of the expulsion of a part of 'the Jungle' in Calais, France, 29 February 2016

She expected further clashes and ”more of the same“ as the demolition continued.

It is the largest in successive rounds of demolitions aiming to destroy squalid parts of the sprawling camp, near the entrance to the Channel Tunnel and ferries to England, and move refugees away from a motorway that has seen frequent disruption and clashes as groups attempt to board lorries.

Prefect Fabienne Buccio, who had ordered the camp evacuated and dismantled earlier this month, was present for the start of demolitions on Monday. 

Her office accused some activist groups of “intimidation” tactics, claiming they were manipulating migrants into refusing to accept government offers of shelter. 

About 4,000 people are estimated to live in the camp - down from 6,000 in December – and the refugees’ presence has driven far-right sentiment in both Britain and France.

A judge in Lille ruled last Thursday that a partial clearance should go ahead, apart from public buildings and social spaces, including schools and places of worship.

Riot police extinguish a fire during Monday's clashes

Campaigners had called for a postponement to remove people from the slum, saying that there is not enough new accommodation for people to move to.

Meanwhile, the refugee crisis is reaching crisis point elsewhere in Europe as border restrictions by Austria, Slovenia, Macedonia and other nations is trapping thousands of homeless migrants in Greece after they arrive on smugglers' boats from Turkey.

More than 130,000 refugees and migrants have arrived in Europe by sea so far this year, according to the latest UN figures, mostly Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis crossing from Turkey to Greece.

Asylum seekers are arriving at roughly eight times the rate seen during the same period in 2015, which was a record-breaking year as conflicts across the Middle East and Africa drove the worst refugee crisis since the Second World War.


Additional reporting by agencies