The Current

Uncertainty looms for refugees as Calais camp dismantled

Among the thousands of refugees French officials are forcing out of the Calais camp called the "jungle" are an estimated 1,200 unaccompanied minors. Many have relatives in Britain but the U.K. is divided on its obligations.

Read story transcript

It's been home to as many as 10,000 refugees and migrants at times, living in improvised shacks with poor sanitation.

On Oct. 24, French officials began dismantling the Calais refugee camp know as "the jungle" that will take three days to complete, as buses arrived early to move the thousands of evicted residents.

Jack Steadman, field officer for the Calais camp with the organization Help Refugees tells The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti that it's been calm in the camp.

"They've brought 50 buses which is… for about 3,000 people," says Steadman who has been at the camp for 13 months.

'The jungle' migrant camp in Calais, France, has been home to as many as 10,000 refugees and migrants at times, living in improvised shacks with poor sanitation. (Christopher Furlong/Getty)

"I estimate at least 40 per cent of the camp wants to stay in France and will happily go on those buses, so it's perhaps no surprise that today it's been relatively calm," says Steadman who tells Tremonti most people are happy the French government is "finally" supplying them with accommodation that's better than a tent.

There are an estimated 1,200 unaccompanied minors in the makeshift camp. According to Steadman their ages range from 10 to 17-years-old — the average age being about 14-years-old.

"There's a lot of kids. I mean maybe 500 of them will go to the U.K. legally and then the remaining 800 won't have the same kind of luxury being offered that."

Steadman says life for these minors is awful, living in "shoddy tents often with complete strangers."

The court ruled the evacuation of the camp in Calais, France, was intended to end the 'inhumane and degrading' conditions endured by refugees, by moving them to shelters around the country. (Denis Charlet/AFP/Getty Images)

"The French state is a signatory to the European Convention on the rights of the child. They should be protecting these children ... They're the most vulnerable people in Europe."

After the "jungle" is cleared, kids remaining will be housed in special accommodations centres but what happens after that Steadman says he has no details.

"These kids are asking us every day 'what's going to happen to me?' and honestly we can't tell them the answer because we don't know and the state won't tell us," Steadman tells Tremonti.

"We've got volunteers here doing the job of two governments looking after children. Half of us are builders or you know journalists or nurses … we don't have experience doing this."

"We shouldn't be doing this. It should be the government doing this."

​Listen to the full conversation at the top of this web post.

This segment was produced by The Current's Karin Marley, Ines Colabrese and Lara O'Brien.