The Calais Jungle is being cleared, but what follows may be worse

The fundamental attractions of Britain as a destination will not diminish simply because the bulldozers have moved into the shanty town outside Calais

Migrants react as they wait to register at a processing centre in the 'Jungle', Calais
Migrants react as they wait to register at a processing centre in the 'Jungle', Calais

Clearing long-suffering people out of a stinking, unhealthy, cold and unsanitary encampment with little security or protection from the coming winter is, at the risk of over-simplifying a highly complex situation, a good thing.

It is in nobody’s interest that refugees, including children, who have crossed a continent to escape war, torture and persecution, are left to be brutalised by people traffickers and miscellaneous criminals in a place beyond the law and human rights.

It is true, as has often been remarked, that it would not be tolerated on British soil, and it is an astonishing indictment of the callousness of so many in Europe that it has been allowed to fester at Calais for so long.

There has been a camp of would-be migrants at this port for so long – on and off since the start of the millennium – that the presence of the so-called Jungle, an ugly name for an ugly place, has been taken for granted by governments on both sides of the Channel. Indeed, the presence of the Jungle as a makeshift solution for two nations unwilling to allow refugees and migrants to settle in their respective counties even had its attractions to ministers in London and Paris. In the end, though, the squalor, the lawlessness and the disgraceful exploitation of children has forced the authorities’ hand.

Lorry drivers and the residents of the town will be pleased: the refugees will be much more worried about their futures, post-Jungle.

The problem with dismantling the migrant camp is that what follows may be still worse. If past experience is anything to go by, that is usually what eventually transpires. The French have pledged to offer all those there a place in a more civilised transit camp, with the offer of asylum for those who qualify for it. That is not an unreasonable position, and yet it is, in reality, one that has been open to the refugees for some time. The truth, bewildering to some in Britain, is that so many of them have no wish to live in France. They prefer to come to the UK. That is why they are in Calais rather than, say, Strasbourg or Toulouse. Some speak English better than French; others have family or community links that will help them settle in; there is the perception, at least, that jobs are easier to come by in the UK; very few, in truth, have gone through what they have been through, risking their very lives, simply to sponge some Jobseekers’ Allowance.

The fundamental attractions of Britain as a destination will not diminish simply because the bulldozers have moved into the shanty town outside Calais. Some of these migrants may decide to return home, if their homelands are judged safe enough to take that risk. Many more, it can be safely predicted, will drift back to the attempt on the English Channel, whether they take up the French offer to settle or not. Others may try for other countries. Yet the expectation must be that something like the Jungle will eventually be established once again at Calais or some other port. If the French cancel the Le Touquet accord, as some presidential hopefuls on the make are promising, that that could be very well be translated into pressure at the English ports.

It will happen again because the wars and reigns of terror that surround the European continent, from Syria to Eritrea and Mali, show no sign of abating, and the thousands of people escaping the bombings and the gassings will not be deterred. Getting rid of the Jungle makes precisely no difference to what is happening in Aleppo and Mosul.

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