- LIVE TV
Just after 8am French riot police rolled into three migrant camps in Calais and began evicting the few who remained asleep under tents and tarps.
The migrants, many from Syria and Afghanistan were warned of the coming sweep and many had already left off their own accord from camps at the port of Calais that housed up to 650 people.
Humanitarian groups, who fervently opposed the operation, booed officers as they moved from tent to tent, French daily Le Parisien reported.
Confusion was widespread, notably at one of the largest camps housing mainly Syrian and Afghan exiles, as the migrants have nowhere else to go.
Calais police chief Denis Robin, announced last week the coming dismantlement by saying, “It is out of the question that we encourage the setting up of a jungle.”
An outbreak of the skin infection scabies had spread through the camps and served as partial justification for the evictions.
Humanitarian groups expressed their outrage over this latest sweep.
“This new use of brutality, accompanied by the destruction or loss of migrants’ personal effects, is appalling. It is accompanied by no alternative solution to shelter some 600 people,” Secours Catholique wrote in a statement. “If the urgency of addressing the health issue of scabies epidemic is real, it should not be a pretext for eviction.”
A journalist at the scene tweeted: “The migrants waiting to be evacuated. Authorities confirm they are to have showers and be treated for scabies.”
Migrants have used Calais for decades as a staging area to reach Britain, which some see as having a generous and more welcoming policy for political refugees. The trend has resulted in political battles between the UK and France and has also led to periodic police operations to bulldoze the camps.
Migrants are frequently killed in desperate attempts to smuggle themselves across the English Channel on lorries or buses. Earlier this week a Sudanese teenager died after being crushed under a British tour bus that he’d clung to in an effort to reach England.
Illegal camps of would-be channel-hoppers have sprung up in the Calais area since the French authorities closed down the infamous nearby Sangatte immigrant detention centre in 2002.
France’s Manuel Valls, who was recently appointed prime minister, took a tougher line on immigration than most of his Socialist party during his high-profile stint as interior minister.
Immigration and borders featured prominently in the campaign for last week’s European Parliament elections, which saw far-right anti-immigration candidates score historic victories, including in France and Britain.
Here’s a short video of riot police moving through the camp:
– The Local