26 October, 2016, 12:00 am
CALAIS, France – France began clearing the sprawling “Jungle” camp on Monday as many migrants who have camped for months or years among sand dunes near Calais gave up on their dreams of reaching Britain, a tantalisingly short sea crossing away.
Following sporadic outbreaks of unrest overnight, the migrants chose instead with calm resignation to be relocated in France while their asylum requests are considered.
By the evening, 2318 camp residents — more than a third of the total — had left the squalid shanty-town outside the northern port by bus and were being rehoused at reception centres across the country, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said.
French officials celebrated the peaceful start to the attempt to dismantle the camp, which has become a symbol of Europe’s failure to respond to the migration crisis as member states squabble over who should take in those fleeing war and poverty. But some aid workers warned that the trouble, when some migrants burned toilet blocks and threw stones at riot police in protest at the camp’s closure, indicated tensions could escalate.