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Thousands of migrants pack up as Calais Jungle exodus begins

By Jemma Crew

Published 25/10/2016

Migrants gather as they begin to leave the Jungle camp in Calais, France
Migrants gather as they begin to leave the Jungle camp in Calais, France
Migrants sit by a fire inside the Jungle
Police officers try to stop a fight among migrants as they line-up at a processing centre

Thousands of refugees and migrants packed their bags as the first day of the Calais Jungle mass exodus drew to a close last night.

French officials believe around 2,000 camp residents, including an estimated 300 minors, passed through the registration centre on the fringe of the squalid camp yesterday, a spokesman for the French Interior said.

Some 39 buses so far have been sent to regions all over France except Paris and Corsica.

Crowds carrying rucksacks, holdalls and wheelie-bags, many with scarves over their faces, queued to register for accommodation centres elsewhere after being told they must leave the camp or risk arrest and deportation.

People in the queues said they had no idea where they were going but many seemed resigned to leaving the camp, where demolition work is expected to begin today.

Shortly before midday, at least 50 armed riot police marched in to control the crowd, as people started to push and shove at the front.

While small scuffles broke out and punches were thrown, most people waited patiently, crammed inside the barriers, which police then widened to give them more space. The atmosphere was less volat ile than after-dark scenes at the weekend when violent clashes saw camp residents throwing stones at French riot police on the perimeter, who fought back by firing tear gas.

An officer on the ground said around 1,250 police and gendarmes have been drafted in to ensure the eviction runs smoothly.

Those who travel to reception centres have been told they will have to claim asylum in France within a set period of time or face deportation.

Meanwhile, the Home Secretary has said British authorities will not accept any new unaccompanied minors who arrive in the so-called 'Jungle' after the clearance started.

Addressing the Commons as the French authorities began dismantling the camp, Amber Rudd told MPs Britain has provided shelter, so far, to 200 unaccompanied minors, including 60 girls and young women. She added that several hundred more will arrive over the next three weeks.

But Ms Rudd warned that no new arrivals will be considered because she did not want to appear to encourage more children to make the perilous journey to the French port.

Ms Rudd added: "Through this process it is important we do not encourage more children to head to Calais, risking their lives in the hands of traffickers."

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