Refugee camp repurposed as nature reserve
An informal settlement in Calais, France, near the tunnel crossing to England, was home to upwards of 8,000 refugees in 2015 and 2016. Known as the Calais Jungle, the development included makeshift restaurants, shops, a mosque, and a church. The camp was razed in October 2016 amidst fires and confrontations with police. Residents were bussed to shelters elsewhere in France. This summer, the expanse of scrub brush, dunes, and marshland on the edge of industrial Calais was assimilated into a sanctuary for migrating birds.
Since the '90s, France has struggled to respond to the refugee crisis in and around Calais, without ever providing enough shelter and other basic services for the people in need of them. In 1999 the French Red Cross built a refugee center inside a former factory, but within three years it had become overcrowded and was shuttered. Recently, the French have taken a hard line against refugees, clearing settlements and banning the distribution of food. Diego Jenowein at Global Voices sees the expansion of the nature reserve as an attempt to ensure that the refugee camp never reappears.