France: first migrants begin leaving Calais 'Jungle' camp

France: first migrants begin leaving Calais 'Jungle' camp
By Alasdair Sandford  with Reuters

Hundreds of people are expected to be moved to centres for asylum seekers elsewhere in France as the authorities prepare to dismantle the camp.

France has begun clearing migrants from the Calais camp nicknamed the “Jungle” on the country’s northern coast.

The first bus left at 08.00 CET on Monday, carrying 50 people from Sudan who had arrived at a transit centre shortly earlier.

Sixty buses are due to transport the first wave to reception centres for asylum seekers elsewhere in France.

Others have been queuing outside a hangar where aid workers have been handing out basic provisions and information leaflets.

The migrants are to be separated into families, adults, unaccompanied minors and vulnerable individuals. The evacuation is expected to take at least a week.

Charities have warned the calm mood witnessed on Monday morning could change when the camp begins being dismantled. Many migrants are desperate to reach Britain and the authorities are worried that protesters may exacerbate tensions.

The government says it is acting on humanitarian grounds as the camp is in a squalid condition and is unable to cope with the 7,000 people who are currently living there.

From Tuesday (October 25), heavy machinery will be sent to clear the tents and shelters that have been left behind.

But the fate of some 1,300 unaccompanied minors is still uncertain.

Calais’ regional Prefect, Fabienne Buccio told reporters that measures had been put in place: “We have set up a special processing system, this has taken a long time, a very particular processing system for the minors. So there will be a specific registration for minors tomorrow at the SAS (sorting centre), with a French-British team that will take charge of them.”

However, charities have criticised the slow pace at which both British and French officials have so far processed the papers of children fleeing countries such as Syria, Afghanistan and Eritrea.

Extra police are to be deployed in the camp as there are concerns some migrants will refuse to leave because they still want to get to Britain.Those who refuse to move face arrest.

Around 200 unaccompanied children have left the camp for the UK, some are to join other family members while others are without relatives there but are judged to be vulnerable.

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