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Belgium reinstates France border checks over Calais 'Jungle' fears

Kurt Desplenter / Belga / AFP | Police officers patrol the Belgian seaport of Zeebrugge on January 28, 2016.

Belgium on Tuesday said it had temporarily reintroduced border controls with France to halt the arrival of migrants from the Calais "Jungle" camp, in a new blow to the EU's passport-free travel area.

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"We have informed the European Commission that we will temporarily depart from Schengen rules," Interior Minister Jan Jambon told a press conference in Brussels, referring to the 26-country borderless zone.

France plans to close half of the controversial "Jungle" camp on the outskirts of Calais, although a court on Tuesday said it was delaying its ruling, just hours before a deadline for residents to be evacuated.

'A small trickle' of migrants heading from Calais to Belgium

“We’re really scared that when Calais is evacuated they’ll all come here, and we don’t want a Calais in Belgium,” a Belgian resident told FRANCE 24.

Brussels announced that over 290 police officers would impose checks along its border with France, FRANCE 24 reported.

Belgian authorities were stopping “nearly every” car coming from France into Belgium, according to FRANCE 24 correspondent Luke Brown. Other officers were patrolling the length of the border on horseback to check for migrants trying to cross by foot.

Migrants hoping to make it to Britain regularly follow a route from Calais east along the English Channel coast to the Belgian port town of Zeebrugge, where ferries and trucks leave for the UK.

Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon said Belgian authorities would evaluate the checkpoint locations on a daily basis. “We know the most-used smuggling routes but migrants will try to pass elsewhere,” he added.

"We will not know today," said a source in the court in the northern city of Lille, adding that a decision was not now expected until Wednesday or Thursday.

Belgium is now the seventh country in the normally passport-free Schengen zone to set up temporary border controls.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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