Calais migrants: France prepares to demolish 'Jungle' camp

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Media captionOne migrant at the Calais camp tells the BBC: "I will not move one inch"

French officials are preparing for the clearance of the "Jungle" migrant camp in Calais, due to start on Monday.

Authorities say some 7,000 people live in the camp in squalid conditions. They will be offered placements in refugee centres across France.

But there is concern that some migrants will refuse to go because they still want to get to Britain.

Fires raged in and around the Jungle as police fired tear gas into groups of migrants ahead of Monday's operation.

Migrants threw stones at police wearing full riot gear amid fears that a small number of migrants were receiving help from groups outside the camp who are opposed to the clearance.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The French interior ministry has insisted that it does not want to use force but has indicated that it will do so if there are migrants who refuse to leave the Jungle
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A small group of migrants were tear gassed as they threw stones at police
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Fires erupted near the Jungle ahead of Monday's closure operation
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The area around the Jungle resembled a battle ground on Sunday night

The BBC's Jonny Dymond in Calais says that while some migrants are resigned to their fate, many are bitterly disappointed to be leaving while the pull of the UK is still strong.

They have waited months, in some cases years, at this edge of France trying to get to the UK where they believe work is easier to find, our correspondent says.

For France the closing of the camp will be the end of a festering sore in Calais. But this is not the first migrant camp in Calais to close, only to be replaced.

The UK meanwhile has begun to accept some of the estimated 1,300 unaccompanied children from the camp.

The first group without family ties to the UK has arrived in Britain under the "Dubs amendment" rules, which grant refuge to the most vulnerable.

Charities are helping the French authorities to process minors that remain in the camp, by conducting interviews and establishing who should also be transferred to the UK.

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Amid concerns for their safety, children will be taken to the camp's converted shipping containers while the rest of the Jungle is dismantled, according to the French interior ministry.

The migrants who currently live in the containers - which were being used as temporary accommodation instead of makeshift tents - will be evacuated to make room for them.

About 10,000 leaflets are being handed out by the French authorities, informing people about the plans for the clearance. They are being told report to a reception point and will then be taken to other parts of France and given the opportunity to claim asylum.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Migrants in the Jungle received documents on Sunday explaining plans for the camp's evacuation

There are 7,500 beds available in centres across France for the Calais migrants. Some 60 buses will be used to remove them from the camp.

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

The French interior ministry said it "does not want to use force but if there are migrants who refuse to leave, or NGOs who cause trouble, the police might be forced to intervene".

The Jungle has played host to scenes of both squalor and of violence, as migrants, mainly from Africa and the Middle East, attempt to board lorries bound for the UK, clashing with drivers and police in the process.

A UK-funded wall 1km (0.6 miles) long is being built along the main road to the port in an attempt to deter would-be stowaways. The UK government has not confirmed the cost, but it is reported to have contributed about £1.9m (€2.2m).

Work on the wall, which began last month, is due to be finished by the end of the year.

What is the Jungle?

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The Jungle camp is close to the main road to Calais port
  • The Jungle camp is near the port of Calais, and close to the 31-mile Channel Tunnel
  • Officially, about 7,000 migrants live in the camp - humanitarian groups say the number is closer to 10,000
  • Despite an increasing population, the camp's size was halved earlier this year
  • But the camp's population has continued to rise, and reports of violence have increased
  • Many migrants attempt to hide themselves in cargo vehicles entering the Channel Tunnel
  • The area has been hit by protests from both locals and truck operators