French of­fi­cials close down mi­grant camp

7 Days in Dubai - - GLOBAL NEWS -

Lines of mi­grants with their lives in small bags waited calmly to get on buses in the French port city of Calais yes­ter­day, the first day of the mass evac­u­a­tion and de­struc­tion of the squalid camp they called home.

French author­i­ties were be­gin­ning a com­plex op­er­a­tion to shut down the makeshift camp, up­root­ing thou­sands who made treach­er­ous jour­neys to es­cape wars, dic­ta­tors or grind­ing poverty and dreamed of build­ing new lives in Bri­tain.

Closely watched by more than 1,200 po­lice, the first of hun­dreds of buses ar­rived to be­gin trans­fer­ring mi­grants to re­cep­tion cen­tres around France where they can ap­ply for asy­lum. The camp will then be lev­eled in a week-long op­er­a­tion. Ho­tels and even cas­tles are among the hun­dreds of build­ings of­fi­cials have been con­vert­ing to mi­grant hous­ing.

“This is an op­er­a­tion we want to be peace­ful and un­der con­trol. So far it is,” French In­te­rior Min­is­ter Bernard Cazeneuve said in Paris.

Author­i­ties say the camp, known as “the jun­gle”, holds nearly 6,500 mi­grants who are seek­ing to get to Bri­tain. Aid groups say there are more than 8,300.

The un­of­fi­cial camp, which sprang up 18 months ago, was pre­vi­ously tol­er­ated but given al­most no state help. Aid groups, and hun­dreds of Bri­tish vol­un­teers, have pro­vided ba­sic ne­ces­si­ties. It de­volved into a slum where ten­sions bub­bled, friend­ships formed and smug­glers thrived.

The forced de­par­ture of thou­sands is an enor­mous task, planned for months.

Author­i­ties have had prac­tice. They dis­man­tled the south­ern half of the camp in March, a chaotic, even bru­tal, bull­doz­ing op­er­a­tion that drew com­plaints from hu­man rights groups.

This time, author­i­ties hope to re­store some pride by clos­ing the camp that has been seen as a na­tional dis­grace in a peace­ful, hu­mane op­er­a­tion.

Of­fi­cials have said that there will be a so­lu­tion for each mi­grant – though ex­pul­sion may be among them for those who don’t qual­ify for asy­lum.

GO­ING: Res­i­dents of the camp are led away yes­ter­day

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