CALAIS, France — Thousands of migrants dispersed this week from the now-torched camp they had called home in Calais are struggling to adapt to unfamiliar surroundings in towns and villages throughout France.
Some of the nearly 6,000 people relocated from the camp known as “the jungle” encountered hostility and confusion. Others had trouble buying food. Meanwhile, after fires set by some departing residents hastened the camp’s closure, some confused children and adults were left sleeping rough on its fringes.
Aid workers scrambling to find a solution were given permission Thursday to take about 100 minors and adults to a small makeshift school in what was once the camp’s southern sector, which was razed by the state in March.
The disorienting unfamiliarity that comes from being in flux was evident Thursday in Croisilles, a small village in the same northern region of France as the camp.
Word that a former retirement home there would be used to shelter relocated migrants sparked angry demonstrations last week.
The newcomers — 31 Sudanese — seemed aware that some Croisilles residents wish they had not come. One new arrival, Nasil Mohammad, 21, said he hoped he could turn things around.
“Some persons don’t love me? OK, but I can do something and then he loves me,” Mohammad said. “Maybe I can help someone, in some place, and do for him something and then maybe he in that time he love me.”
Mayor Gerard Due said some village people have responded well. Fears fanned by social media that migrants would bring diseases or rape children have proven unfounded, Due noted.
Local resident Marie-Ange Tabary has urged people in Croisilles not to be afraid of the migrants. She said the protests had embarrassed the town.
“The shame to see all those demonstrators. Why be afraid?” Tabary said. “For the moment they’ve been here, they haven’t done anything bad.”
Some of the thousands of other camp residents have been sent to similar centres throughout France.
In Amiens, north of Paris, a 26-year-old Sudanese man said he has had little to eat since his arrival Wednesday evening. He said local stores would not accept food vouchers handed out by the reception centre that greeted his group of 60, then sent them off to apartments.
Like others, Ibrahim — who did not want his last name used because of concerns about his legal status — has been given temporary housing while he pursues an asylum claim in France.
“There’s no food, just rice and sugar,” he said by telephone, adding there was also some milk and sardines.