Monday, October 24, 2016

France Begins Emptying 'The Jungle' Migrant Camp
John Bacon
10:49 a.m. EDT October 24, 2016

France began clearing out "The Jungle" migrant camp at Calais on Monday as refugees waited in long lines to be processed and then were bused to other areas of the country.

The ramshackle camp, a symbol of Europe's struggle to control the crush of refugees fleeing war-torn Sudan, Afghanistan and other nations, is home to more than 6,000 asylum-seekers. France announced last month the notorious camp will be emptied and closed.

Authorities planned on moving 2,500 people out Monday. The almost 2-year-old, impromptu camp is scheduled to be empty in a few days.

More than 1,000 French police were on hand to keep the peace, and few problems were reported.

"We knew this morning that there would be a lot of people, and that's what's happening," regional Prefect Fabienne Buccio told Reuters news service. "There was no pushing... We had a particular concern for the minors, paid them particular attention, but it went well."

Most of the people living in the  camp hoped to cross the English Channel into Britain, lured by a relatively strong economy and a language with which many migrants are at least familiar. Thousands have attempted to stow away on trucks headed for Eurotunnel or hide on Eurotunnel trains. Few make it there, however, and plans call for shuttling most of the migrants to other areas of France.

Major Nurzei told The Guardian he was thrilled to be going to Normandy with eight friends from the same town in Afghanistan. Nurzei said he left his home country after Islamic State militants cut off the tip of his tongue and broke his fingers.

"U.K. is no good, too much of a headache," he said. "I like France. The U.K. take the children, but they don’t want the adults. We can’t go back to our country.”

Britain's anti-slavery commissioner Kevin Hyland has warned that many of the camp's estimated 1,200 unaccompanied children were turning to human traffickers to find a path to Britain. Hyland, along with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, called for special considerations for many of the youths.

Daniel, an unaccompanied 16-year-old Eritrean, told the Associated Press he has been in Calais for eight months, trying daily to jump on a truck to England. Daniel was heading to the registration center for processing with his cousin, also an unaccompanied minor.

“I’m not happy because it’s finished, The Jungle. I want to go to the U.K.,” he said. “I don’t want France."

Christian Salome, head of the charity Migrants' Hostel, said those leaving Monday had wanted to go.

"I'm much more concerned about later in the week when the only ones remaining are those who do not want to leave, who still want to reach England," he told Agence France-Presse.

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