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French authorities to move 1,000 migrants from Calais 'Jungle' camp

© Philippe Huguen, AFP file picture| French anti-riot police officers stand guard as a migrant carries away his belongings before the destruction of buildings in the "Jungle" camp in Calais, on February 1, 2016

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2016-02-12

Local French government authorities said Friday they would move up to 1,000 migrants living in the notorious Jungle camp in the northern port town of Calais.

"The time has come to move on, no one must live in the southern part of the camp, everyone must leave this section," said Fabienne Buccio, the national's government local representative, estimating some 800 to 1,000 migrants would be affected.

Shipping containers, which include heating and sockets for electricity, have been set up to house some 750 migrants, she said.

“Now is the moment to seize the moment so that the migrants either return to the (northern state-controlled) camp or seek their way to other reception centres in France.”

But despite the improved living conditions the containers would provide, many migrants have been opposed to moving into them because it would require them having to have their palm prints taken, which could impede their efforts to reach Britain and apply for asylum there.

Buccio said that government representatives would visit migrant communities on Monday "to explain" the plans.

"We will give them a week to take up places that will be made available," she added.

Some 4,000 migrants, most of them from North Africa, the Middle East and Afghanistan, live in the makeshift camp from where they launch their often desperate efforts to reach Britain, across the Channel.

The southern part of the camp, however, has sprung up on its own, and is viewed by authorities as a slum area. In January, it ordered parts of the southern camp to be torn down.

The large concentration of migrants in Calais has become a political hot potato both within France and between Paris and London, and local authorities want to reduce the number of migrants living in the camp to about 1,500. They also want to limit the number of women and children living in the city’s migrant reception centre to about 500.

Buccio told Reuters news agency that she hoped that authorities would not have to use force during the planned evacuation.

“The time is right for us to do this and tear down a part of the camp which is giving Calais a bad image,” she said of the southern camp.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)

Date created : 2016-02-12

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