French officials began attempts to clear the ‘jungle’ migrant camp in Calais on Monday, with plans to relocate those 7,000 fleeing war and poverty to 450 centres across France.
The major three-day operation aims to clear the sprawling shantytown near the Calais port, with the dismantling of the ‘jungle’ to start later in the week.
Officials predicted the movement of up to 2,500 migrants on Monday, who are being transported to reception centres through buses leaving the site all week.
Regional Prefect Fabienne Buccio said:
“It’s going well. We knew this morning that there would be a lot of people, and that’s what’s happening. There was no pushing, the minors arrived. We had a particular concern for the minors, paid them particular attention, but it went well.”
The refugees who are separated into categories such as adults, families and single women, began getting processed at the ‘welcome point’ as early as 7.00am this morning where they were able to board buses.
Attitudes among the refugee population in Calais differed. Whilst those who were hoping to claim asylum in France were relieved and co-operative, those who were determined to reach the UK expressed unwillingness to board a coach.
Didier Leschi, head of the French immigration office, has said that often the hardest part of this movement is convincing people to “accept (French) accommodation and give up their dream of Britain.”
Volunteers have warned the government that many migrants who remain determined to reach Britain will simply temporarily reside in surrounding countryside, only to regroup in Calais at a later date.
“Each time they dismantle part of the camp it’s the same thing. You’re going to see them go into hiding and then come back. The battles will continue,” said Christian Salome, president of Auberge des Migrants.
Plans for the evacuation and resettlement of ‘jungle’ refugees is planned to be finished by Friday 28th October with migrants already taken to regions including, Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes, Brittany and Pays de la Loire.