Bulldozers move in as migrants flee 'Jungle' for Paris
Bulldozers cleared mounds of debris and tore down makeshift shelters at the 'Jungle' migrant camp yesterday, and authorities said 6,000 people had been evacuated from the squalid site.
The Jungle, an overcrowded shanty town, came to symbolise Europe's difficulty in dealing with record inflows of migrants from impoverished and war-torn regions of Africa, the Middle East and Asia, many of them bent on crossing the sea from Calais to Britain.
French President François Hollande, facing an election six months from now, decided under local pressure to close the Jungle and relocate its inhabitants in towns and villages throughout the country pending examination of their cases.
"By next Monday, the camp will be no more. It is already gone but the [demolition] job will finished by Monday evening," local government prefect Fabienne Buccio said.
Police patrolled the camp and other parts of Calais, where dozens of migrants were wandering.
Ms Buccio said she wanted to make clear to any would-be new arrivals in the French port that the camp was shut for good and the rehousing exercise finished.
"It is not Calais' role to receive all the migrants of Europe," she said.
There were signs that some migrants might have fled from Calais to Paris to avoid taking part in a government programme to rehouse them and being roped into official processing of asylum requests.
Heloise Mary, working to help migrants at a smaller camp under a bridge in north Paris, said numbers there had suddenly shot up.
"We've gone from 2,000 to 3,000 in two days with the closure of Calais," she said.