France starts clearing 'jungle' migrant makeshift camp in Calais
Published 24/10/2016 | 09:08
Hundreds of migrants carrying suitcases and bundles of possessions started queuing outside a hangar outside Calais on Monday to be resettled as the French government started clearing a makeshift camp known as the "Jungle".
Armed police fanned out around the warehouse and across the squalid shanty-town after a night during which small groups of migrants burned toilet blocks and hurled stones at security forces in protest at the plans to dismantle the camp.
The Socialist government says it is closing the camp, home to 6,500 migrants fleeing war and poverty, on humanitarian grounds. It plans to relocate them to 450 centres across France.
"I hope this works out. I'm alone and I just have to study," said Amadou Diallo from the West African nation of Guinea Conakry. "It doesn't matter where I end up, I don't really care."
Many of the migrants and refugees hail from countries like Afghanistan, Syria and Eritrea and had wanted had reach Britain, which bars most of them on the basis of EU rules requiring them to seek asylum inn the first European country they set foot in.
Aid workers have been handing out rucksacks with basic provisions and fliers explaining the immigration bureaucracy that lies ahead.
The migrants will be separated into families, adults, unaccompanied minors and vulnerable individuals, including elderly people and single women.
They will then be bussed to the reception centres where they will receive medical checks and, if they have not already done so, decide whether to apply for asylum.
Officials expect 60 buses to leave the camp on Monday. The government expects the evacuation will take at least a week.
While calm prevailed on Monday, charity workers expect hundreds will try and stay and cautioned the mood could change later in the week when dismantlement of camp begins.
"There's a risk tensions increase in the week because at some point the bulldozers are going to have to come in," said Fabrice Durieux from the charity Salam.