France begins demolition of ‘Jungle’ migrant camp
Workers escorted by scores of French police officers moved into the “Jungle” in Calais on Tuesday, demolishing shacks and tents emptied of migrants who were being bussed to shelters around France.
The demolition work began on the second day of a massive operation to clear the squalid settlement in northern France, where an estimated 6,000-8,000 migrants, mostly Afghans, Sudanese and Eritreans, have been living.
“The start of the clean-up operations sends a sign that La Lande camp is really over,” said Fabienne Buccio, head of security in the region, using the official name for the camp known as the Jungle.
The finality of the operation was driven home by the demolition operation, as mattresses, blankets, clothes, pots and suitcases left behind by the migrants were piled on top of the wood and plastic sheeting used in their shacks.
Wearing hard hats and orange overalls the workers used electric saws to take down wooden shelters and earth-moving equipment to clear debris from the site that has for years been a launchpad for attempts to reach Britain.
Riot police carrying shields sealed off the area.
Beforehand, aid workers and officials had gone tent-to-tent to ensure the area had been vacated. Since Monday, around 2,700 people have been transferred to shelters around France while around 600 unaccompanied minors have been moved to a container park in the Jungle where families had been staying, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said. Others, including a number of Afghans, are waiting until Wednesday, billed as the last day for bus transfers.
Ali Othman, a Sudanese, vowed he would not leave voluntarily. “They can detain me, jail me, throw me out on the street. I still want to go to Britain.” he said outside his tent.