- Day one of ‘jungle’ evacuation is peaceful
- One-third of 7,000 migrants have been removed
- Concern remains over unaccompanied minors
French authorities resume their evacuation of migrants from the ‘jungle’ camp at Calais today, after Monday’s largely peaceful start.
Long queues had formed as the first to leave were processed before being boarded on to buses, many of the inhabitants of the camp had appeared pleased to be leaving.
Some volunteers had complained that the migrants had not been given enough information about the plans and warned of a sense of confusion and chaos.
'I will close my eyes and put my finger on the map': Calais refugees move on https://t.co/fUcEgl6Tqb— The Guardian (@guardian) October 24, 2016
The French government says it is closing the camp on humanitarian grounds. About 7,500 beds are being made available in 450 centres across France. So far migrants have been taken to seven regions including Auvergne – Rhone-Alpes, Bourgogne-Franche-Comte, Brittany and Nouvelle Aquitaine.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve is still pushing for Britain to take most of the 1,300 unaccompanied children in the camp.
“The United Kingdom will welcome every isolated minor in Calais whose family ties in Britain have been established. The British authorities are also committed to studying cases of unaccompanied minors who do not have any family ties but who have a strong interest in joining the country,” he said.
Nearly a third of the estimated 7,000 inhabitants have now been bussed out and rehoused at centres across France. Once the rest have been removed the camp will be demolished. It is expected that the demolition will take place at the end of the week.
But there are concerns that those who still harbour dreams of getting to Britain might refuse to leave. The French government has warned that “police might be forced to intervene” if there is any unrest once the camp is dismantled.
Many of the migrants who have been living in Calais are from countries such as Afghanistan, Syria and Eritrea and had wanted to reach Britain, which is connected to France by a rail tunnel.
Some had wished to join up with relatives already there and most had planned to seek work, believing that jobs are more plentiful than in France.
Britain, however, bars most of them on the basis of European Union rules requiring them to seek asylum in the first member states they set foot in.
While many in the UK support the government’s tough stance on immigration, some UK MPs have criticised its attitude to the migrants and the lack of help or understanding given to those living in camp.