More than 7,300 people now live in the so-called Calais Jungle migrant camp near the port of Calais access point to the Channel Tunnel, a new census has revealed.
Migrants, some fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and Asia have amassed, in their thousands, on the French coast with the hope of making their way into the UK. But as the migrant crisis in the port continues, French authorities have been carrying out their strongest crackdown on migrants for five years, evicting, arresting, detaining or deporting migrants from France.
The population of the camp has risen above 7,000 for the first time, with the population now totalling 7,307
– according to a new census from L' Auberge des Migrants/ Help Refugees.
The organisation, which builds shelters for the refugees in the camp and carries out monthly censuses in order to keep track of demographics and population shifts within the camp, said this represents a 15% rise month-on-month.
There were 6,123 migrants living in the camp in May – up from 4,946 after the eviction of the southern half of the Jungle in March.
Estimated 10,000 migrants in the Jungle by September
According to the organisation, if the growth rate of nearly 50-people-per-day continues, the camp's population could exceed 10,000 in the next two months.
"We expected the numbers not to increase too dramatically over the past month, as it is so difficult to travel during the holy month of Ramadan. However we are still seeing a persistent pattern of growth, which, if sustained, will amount to a population of over 10,000 come September," Help Refugees co-founder, Josie Naughton, said in a statement.
Naughton said the rise was unexpected, given previous projections that fewer people would travel during the holy month of Ramadan, increased border security between Turkey and the European Union, and repected attempts from both French and British authorities to discourage people from making the journey.
In 2015, France expelled or deported more than 10,500 migrants from its territory, including people seeking asylum from poverty or war that were eligible for refugee status, in a violation of international laws and conventions.
While Calais Mayor Natacha Bouchart has recently threatened migrants with a fresh eviction "as soon as possible", officials raided small shops, kitchens, cafés and hair salons run by asylum seekers in the north zone of the so-called Calais Jungle migrant camp near the port of Calais on 19 July.
Thirteen migrants were arrested and a number of the shops were closed with the prefecture confirming they would soon "be destroyed".
"If the camp is set to be destroyed without adequate alternatives being offered to all residents currently without secured accommodation (many of whom have already been displaced at least once) then this is truly terrible news" Naughton said.
80% of minors in the camp are unaccompanied
While the general population grew around 15% over the last month, the number of unaccompanied minors grew by a staggering 32%.
There are now 761 minors in the camp of whom 608 (80%) are unaccompanied by an adult, according to the new census. The youngest child currently in the camp is four months old, and the youngest unaccompanied child is eight years old.
She added: "There are 10,000 children who have reportedly gone missing in Europe so far. Another eviction could add hundreds more to that devastating tally."