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Calais migrants: France begins to clear ‘Jungle’ camp

Migrants in France are cleared from camp. PHOTO: AP

MORE than 1,200 police and officials in France have begun an operation to clear the “Jungle” migrant camp in Calais.
The camp has been housing some 7,000 people in squalid conditions.
Migrants queued peacefully to be processed, and the first of some 60 coaches that will carry them to refugee centres across France have now left.
There is concern that some migrants will refuse to go because they still want to get to Britain, and there were some clashes over the weekend.
The demolition of the camp is expected to take place on Tuesday.
The UK 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.
The BBC’s Simon Jones, at the camp, says most people seemed in good spirits despite the slightly chaotic scenes. But one Sudanese man shouted: “Our dream is over.”
The migrants are being placed into separate queues to determine who are in families, travelling alone or whether they are in vulnerable categories.
After processing they will leave for various parts of France and be given the opportunity to claim asylum. If they do not, they could face deportation.
There are 7,500 beds being made available in 450 centres across France.
The first coach left less than an hour after processing began – carrying 50 Sudanese to the Burgundy region, AFP reported.
By mid-morning there were long lines at the entrance to the registration centre.
Officials have predicted that some 2,500 people will leave the camp on Monday.
Rue des Garennes links the Jungle camp to the new migrant processing centre, and is a street of suitcases and resignation.
At 05:00, three hours before the clearance operation was due to start, groups of refugees and migrants began to form a queue. Since then, a mass exodus from the camp and hundreds are now lining the road waiting for a coach to take them away.
Towards the back of the queue is Adil from Sudan, carrying two bags, a football and a guitar. “My dream is dead, the people you see here, and they are broken. We can’t believe it’s over.”
Inside the camp, aid workers from Care for Calais are moving tent to tent, warning migrants that if they don’t leave, they’ll be arrested. The police presence is large, with many huddled in riot vans, keeping out of the cold, and making the most of the calm.
Children will be housed in the camp’s converted shipping containers while the rest of the Jungle is dismantled.
From Tuesday, heavy machinery will be sent to clear the tents and shelters that have been left behind. The whole operation is expected to take three days.
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”.