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Families leave Calais Jungle for new life in south of France

Published 18/10/2016

A woman boards a coach at the Jungle migrant camp
A woman boards a coach at the Jungle migrant camp

A coach-load of migrant and refugee families has left the Calais camp known as the Jungle before bulldozers move in to demolish makeshift homes in the slum.

Young children were among those who boarded the coach on the camp's fringe before it took them to communities in the south of France to start a new life.

Among the first to claim a seat was Naqeebullah Noorzada, 44, from Afghanistan, who was with his three children aged eight, six and 10, and his sister-in-law.

He said he reached the Jungle after paying a people-smuggler 30,000 US dollars to get his family out of his war-torn country via Iran and Turkey before reaching Europe by boat.

Queueing for the coach in the drizzle, Mr Noorzada said: "There are a lot of problems here, particularly if you have children, so we are moving elsewhere in France, in the south near the Spanish border.

"We are at war in my country. We had to escape the Taliban. I want my children to have an education.

"We are happy to be moving out of here. We will be at peace. My first choice was London because I love the English and I speak good English.

"But wherever there is peace is my second choice."

Mr Noorzada and his family moved out ahead of the planned demolition of the Jungle, which has some 10,000 inhabitants.

Migrants and refugees in the shanty town's northern section carried on life as normal on Tuesday as the threat of eviction loomed over them.

One volunteer said: "It's very good for those that are being relocated but we need communities to help us because, while some are welcoming, others are hostile."

French President Francois Hollande announced last month that the camp will close before winter, with its inhabitants dispersed around the country.

The site has become a symbol of his government's failure to tackle Europe's migrant crisis and a target of criticism from conservative and far-right rivals seeking to unseat him.

Homelessness charity Emmaus called for a postponement to the closure as it said "all conditions are not met for an efficient humanitarian operation to take place".

Press Association

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