France migrants: Calais 'Jungle' residents urged to leave after ruling

Immigration officers meet with migrants to discuss possible relocation plans from the southern part of the camp known as the "Jungle", a squalid sprawling camp in Calais, northern France, February 26, 2016 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption French officials urged residents from the southern part of the camp to leave following Thursday's court decision

The French authorities are conducting tent-to-tent visits to urge residents at the controversial "Jungle" camp in Calais to leave.

It follows a court decision on Thursday which approved a government plan to clear the camp.

Authorities say around 1,000 migrants will be affected by the eviction plan for the southern part of the camp.

Overall, more than 3,700 migrants live in the camp, many of whom hope to cross the Channel to reach Britain.

Conditions there are squalid and its sprawling presence has become a controversial issue in both France and the UK.

Local officials said public areas such as places of worship or schools would not be cleared and that it would be a "humanitarian operation".

On Friday officials toured the southern part of the camp telling people it was "time to leave", volunteers there said.

The Help Refugees charity said 10 adults had taken up the government's option to leave on buses brought to the camp.

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Media captionCalais camp "is our second home"

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the authorities would carry out the court order humanely.

Residents would be relocated to a nearby park of converted shipping containers or other centres within the country.

"There was never any question of the French government sending bulldozers on to the site," he said on Thursday.

Calais mayor Natacha Bouchart said the authorities would also seek to reduce the size of the northern part of the camp in the coming months.

This would enable work to start on a project to extend the city's port, she told Reuters news agency.

Neighbouring Belgium this week announced temporary controls on its border with France amid fears of an influx of migrants from the camp.

France described the Belgian move as "strange". Mr Cazeneuve said the very idea of Calais migrants heading for Belgium did not "correspond to reality". However, Belgian officials say dozens have already been stopped trying to cross the border.

The Jungle in numbers

Image copyright AFP
  • Total camp population is disputed - Calais officials say it houses 3,700 while Help Refugees puts it at 5,497
  • Figures for the southern half (facing immediate eviction threat) are estimated at either 800-1,000 or 3,455
  • There are 205 women and 651 children (423 unaccompanied), says Help Refugees
  • Local government's long-term aim is to have no more than 2,000 migrants living in Calais, says its chief, Fabienne Buccio

Tea, rivalry and ambition at 'Jungle hotel'

Jungle migrants prepare to move

Migrants resist relocation to containers