There were angry scenes as riot police moved in to dismantle three camps in northern France housing hundreds of migrants hoping to cross the Channel to England.
More than 500 people, many fleeing conflict in Syria and Afghanistan, have been living in squalid conditions in the camps in Calais where an epidemic of scabies has broken out.
Some migrants had already left the camps by the time police arrived early on Wednesday morning, as the evictions were announced one week before. Others, alongside their supporters, scuffled with officers as they moved in.
Authorities who ordered the evacuation said that treatment and alternative emergency shelters are on offer but aid workers oppose the clear-out, saying the migrants will end up on the streets.
“They are going to wander around the town, their health is going to suffer, and will be even more precarious than it is now,” said Cecile Bossy, a coordinator for the ‘Doctors of the World’ NGO.
“So we condemn this policy of repression and expulsion as useless. It means hardship for people and puts their health at risk.”
Some blame the destruction of the camps on a shift to the far-right in France, where the anti-immigrant National Front won European elections at the weekend.
But authorities fear the establishment of a new ‘jungle’ – the nickname of a migrant camp that sprung up after France closed the large Red Cross centre at nearby Sangatte in 2002, under pressure from Britain.