Workers tear down Jungle camp

Migrants wait to register outside a processing centre outside the Jungle camp. The authorities have said those who agree to be moved can seek asylum in France and that those who refuse risk deportation. Picture / AP
Migrants wait to register outside a processing centre outside the Jungle camp. The authorities have said those who agree to be moved can seek asylum in France and that those who refuse risk deportation. Picture / AP

French workers escorted by riot police yesterday began tearing down shacks and tents in the Calais "Jungle" vacated by migrants who have been bused to shelters around the country.

The demolition work began on the second day of a massive operation to clear the squalid camp in northern France, where an estimated 6000 to 8000 migrants, mostly Afghans, Sudanese and Eritreans, have been living.

"The start of the cleanup operations sends a sign that La Lande camp is really over," said Fabienne Buccio, head of security in the region, using the official name for a camp that has become one of the most notorious symbols of Europe's migrant crisis.

Workers in hard hats and orange overalls used electric saws to reduce shacks to piles of wood and plastic that were removed by diggers. Mattresses, blankets, clothes, pots and suitcases left behind by the migrants were also carted away.

Situated next to the port of Calais, the Jungle has for years been a launchpad for migrants attempting to make it to Britain by sneaking on to trucks or jumping on to trains heading across the Channel.

As part of the camp's clearance, 3182 adults have been transferred to centres around France since Monday and 772 unaccompanied minors have been moved to a container park in the Jungle serving as a temporary shelter, the Interior Ministry said.

The numbers represent around half the camp's estimated population before the operation began, according to official figures.

After an initial stampede for the buses, the pace of departures slowed yesterday with 1264 people being driven away, down from 1918.

The authorities have said those who agree to be moved can seek asylum in France. Those who refuse risk deportation.

Fire trucks were dispatched into the camp yesterday after a handful of shacks were set alight, apparently by migrants resisting the Jungle's closure.

A number of migrants were waiting until today to leave.

Ali Othman, a Sudanese 18-year-old, vowed he would not go quietly.

"They can detain me, jail me, throw me out on the street. I still want to go to Britain," he said.

The Jungle's thousand-plus unaccompanied minors have been the main focus of charities' concerns, and hundreds of anxious youths queued at a hangar yesterday for interviews with French and British officials who will decide their fate.

Britain took in around 200 teenagers in the week before the clearance began as an eleventh-hour gesture, with the transfers resuming yesterday.

An AFP reporter saw a coach carrying around 30 child refugees arrive at an immigration office in the London district of Croydon.

The curtains on the bus were drawn after pictures of some teenagers reunited with family in Britain sparked accusations that they had lied about being children.

- AFP

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