Flashes of unrest were reported Sunday as residents of the ‘Jungle,’ Calais' infamous refugee camp, lashed out at government preparations to shut down the sprawling settlement in northern France.
Dozens of people could be seen throwing rocks at police in images relayed by French broadcaster BFMTV. The authorities responded with tear gas.
France wants to shut down the camp, which is home to about 6,500 migrants, starting on Monday and ship its residents to official camps across the country. The operation is expected to take about a week. About 1,250 police officers have been called in to help with the job.
Helpers working in the camp said most of the residents did not want to go.
‘Some will try to hide themselves in neighbouring parts of Calais. There's a real threat we're going to have a pursuit situation,’ said Christian Salome, head of the aid organization Auberge des migrants, in comments to the newspaper Journal de Dimanche.
Speaking to another newspaper, Nord Littoral, Salome said he backs the move to shut down the camp. But he said the town still needs to host some kind of intake centre for the migrants who will arrive after the Jungle is shut down.
Lynne Jones, a British doctor working in the camp, told dpa that a family of five from Syria had arrived in the camp just on the weekend.
‘I'm for a good solution for the migrants,’ she said, when asked what she thought about the plan to shut it down. She said such a solution would require more work from Britain.
The Jungle has long been a gathering spot for migrants who have made it to Europe and now want to complete their planned journey to Britain, which is only 40 kilometres away.
Unaccompanied minors in the camp will be able to stay in modified shipping containers on the site of the Jungle after it is shut down, according to the government plan. Those with relatives in Britain should be allowed to travel there, argues the French government.
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