From The Intercept:
AS NEGOTIATORS LABORED to strike an international climate agreement in Paris, climate and war refugees in the north of France, shunned by the French government and European authorities, continued to perish. On a recent December night, a teenager from Darfur was struck and killed by a van just after sunset as he attempted to cross the English Channel into the United Kingdom. He was at least the 18th person killed attempting to cross into Britain from the port town of Calais, where the population of a neglected and unauthorized refugee camp has grown from under 1,500 in April to as high as 6,000. Although news reports did not mention it, witnesses swear that the incident was intentional and that the police response was too slow, the driver speeding away in the night as the boy died waiting for an ambulance.
The International Organization for Migration estimates that 3,671 people have died or disappeared as they crossed the sea this year. But migrants have been perishing on land as well. In Austria, 71 died in the back of a cold cuts delivery truck last summer, and in Macedonia, 14 were struck and killed by a train. Overall, though, aside from the Mediterranean Sea, the French side of the Channel Tunnel has become the deadliest place in Europe for migrants. In all, Europe has seen 137 migrant deaths, and one-sixth have been around Calais.
The garbage-dump-turned-refugee-camp where the Sudanese boy lived is known to residents as “the Jungle.” A mass of vinyl camping tents designed for weekend holidays, the camp lies about six miles from the Eurotunnel train station, the primary route by which Calais refugees attempt to travel to England. The most fortunate residents live in simple wooden huts that provide better shelter from dropping temperatures and the camp’s persistent mud.
Watermelon rinds, empty tin cans, discarded clothing, and collapsed tents fill the spaces between shacks, and a putrid smell pervades some areas of the camp; volunteers say it emanates from a nearby industrial plant. Better that stench, however, than the tear gas that regularly wafts through camp, evidenced by canisters strewn along the length of the razor-wire fence built to keep migrants from crossing the freeway toward the train station.
The people who live in the camp fled conflicts in Afghanistan, Syria, Eritrea, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, and other places. Many of them speak English or have relatives in the U.K., or simply believe that England is a place where they can find work and refuge. To apply for asylum there, they must cross the border first, since applications submitted from France are rarely accepted.
To deter them, the French and British governments have poured millions of dollars into extra riot police, tear gas canisters, dogs, fences, infrared cameras, floodlights, and batons, while neglecting to supply adequate meals,…