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French police begin clearout of Dunkirk migrant camp

French police begin clearout of Dunkirk migrant camp
FILE PHOTO: A migrant walks past shelters in a muddy field called the Grande-Synthe jungle, near Dunkirk, northern France, January 12, 2016. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier   -   Copyright  Benoit Tessier(Reuters)
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LILLE, France (Reuters) – French police began to remove over 1,800 people from makeshift migrant camps near the northern port city of Dunkirk on Tuesday, as they renew efforts to stop people from congregating in the region to attempt illegal crossings into Britain.

The operation is aimed at giving vulnerable families shelter and stamping out people-trafficking, the regional prefect’s office said in a statement. Migrants would be rehoused in shelters in the area and surrounding regions.

President Emmanuel Macron promised earlier this year not to allow another camp to mushroom in nearby Calais, after the previous government dismantled what become known as the “jungle” in late 2016.

Police have intervened several times since to forcibly remove people from the Grande-Synthe suburb of Dunkirk, a focal point for migrants for several years and increasingly so since the destruction of the Calais shanty town.

Wooden huts erected in Grande-Synthe by local authorities and aid organisations as part of a humanitarian camp were mostly destroyed in a fire in April 2017.

Other makeshift camps have sprung up since, including in motorway lay-bys and woods. The prefect’s office said Kurdish trafficking rings had sprung up there, which the state was committed to eradicating.

(Reporting by Pierre Savary and Yann Le Guernigou, Writing by Sarah White; editing by John Stonestreet)

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