According to The Daily Mail, the shipping container camp is located next to the Jungle migrant camp that is currently housing more than 4,500 refugees fleeing war and poverty in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.
Most migrants in the Jungle have small tents that are not suited for harsh winter weather. The containers will allow them to brave cold temperatures as they bide their time before trying to cross the English Channel and start a new life.
The new container buildings came as the result of a joint lawsuit filed by two French charities: Medecins du Monde and Secours Catholique. They demanded improvements in the Jungle for migrants who are stuck in the port city for the time being.
Living conditions in Calais have worsened to the point where approximately 1,000 of the migrants attempted to break into the Channel Tunnel to reach Britain before the weather worsens.
“As they approached the tunnel, several migrants tried hard to slow down the flow of traffic so they could climb into the trucks,” said one source with knowledge of the situation. An Agence France-Presse journalist also saw young men cutting through tarpaulin covering vehicles to get inside and ride them into Britain.
Custom containers have a variety of applications, and they’re commonly used for living spaces around the world because of their durability and enhanced protection from the elements.
“After many years at sea, shipping containers, although dented and rusted, are perfectly suited to be re-utilized as affordable housing or shelters,” said Karen Sweeney, the Director of Sales for Integrated Equipment Sales, which sells used shipping containers. “The greatest benefit of building with a shipping container is security. They are weather resistant and can be easily transported.”
While installing the container camp is a generous action on the part of Calais officials, the project was almost delayed indefinitely. According to Yahoo!, delivery of the shipping containers was momentarily pushed back to early 2016.
France announced plans for the container shelters in August, but concerns about the Jungle’s terrain caused the project to be postponed.
“We were initially planning to start deliveries on Dec. 7 but the land there is sand and was not properly ready so the operation has been delayed,” said Antoine Houdebine, a director of Logistics Solutions, the company that provided Calais with the shipping containers.
Despite this minor snag in the process, shipping containers are now being installed in the Jungle. Officials hope that this will ease tensions and help the migrants live comfortably until they can move on from the area.