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Calais Jungle camp: '10 adults moved out' as clearance starts

Published 26/02/2016

Volunteers in the Calais camp have spoken out about the lack of procedure in reporting serious cases of sexual abuse. [File photo]
Volunteers in the Calais camp have spoken out about the lack of procedure in reporting serious cases of sexual abuse. [File photo]

The first phase of clearing migrants and refugees from the Jungle camp in Calais has gone ahead after a judge approved mass evictions.

Volunteers said French officials toured the ramshackle tents and shacks in the southern area of the squalid site telling people it was time to leave.

The Help Refugees charity said 10 adults took up an option to leave on two buses brought to the camp, which is home to around 4,000 migrants and refugees. One bus left empty, it was said.

A Help Refugees spokeswoman said some people were told by prefecture officials that if they did not leave their shelters by 11am, they would be dismantled.

However, despite concerns bulldozers would be mobilised immediately to clear the camp, no shelter dismantling has taken place so far, volunteers said.

The Help Refugees spokeswoman said there had been "lots of conflicting information" given out, including on what accommodation was being offered and for how long.

And there were concerns that accommodation people were being invited to relocate to might not be available after winter, she added.

A judge in Lille ruled on Thursday that a partial clearance should go ahead at the camp, apart from social spaces, including schools and places of worship.

Campaigners had called for a postponement to relocate people from the slum to heated containers nearby or to centres around France. State authorities have said up to 1,000 people will be affected.

But aid workers say the figure is likely to be much higher. Help Refugees said its own analysis revealed there were 3,455 people living in the affected area.

And Save the Children said nearly 400 unaccompanied children who have fled war, poverty and persecution live in the cold, squalid, rat-infested site.

Rachel Robinson, policy officer for Liberty, said: "Many unaccompanied children will be affected by the bulldozers rolling in again, including a significant number with family in the UK, who could and should have their claims determined here."

Mayor of Calais Natacha Bouchart said last week that the dismantling of the camp would keep migrants and refugees away from activists bent on causing disruption.

It was a "sensitive situation" that required "necessary firmness". And she added the conditions endured at the Jungle were "unworthy of human nature".

Aid workers fear mass eviction will result in the problems being shifted elsewhere, such as to the swamp-like Grande-Synthe camp along the northern French coast in Dunkirk.

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said razing part of the camp was not the solution, adding that assurances should be given that the refugees will be treated humanely during the evictions.

But British hauliers have welcomed the judgment. The Freight Transport Association (FTA) said disruption caused by migrants cost the UK freight industry an estimated £750,000 a day last year.

FTA officials said a solution needed to be found to protect the £89 billion worth of UK trade which passes through the cross-Channel ports annually.

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