France has begun clearing a sprawling camp near Calais, where many migrants who have camped for months or years gave up on their dreams of reaching Britain.
After sporadic outbreaks of unrest overnight, the migrants chose instead to be relocated in France while their asylum requests are considered, Reuters reports.
By the evening, 2,318 camp residents — more than a third of the total — had left the squalid shanty-town outside the northern port by bus and were being rehoused at reception centers across the country, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said.
French officials celebrated the peaceful start to the attempt to dismantle the camp, which has become a symbol of Europe’s failure to respond to the migration crisis as member states squabble over who should take in those fleeing war and poverty.
But some aid workers warned that the trouble overnight, when some migrants burned toilet blocks and threw stones at riot police in protest at the camp’s closure, indicated tensions could escalate.
The migrants from countries such as Afghanistan, Syria and Eritrea had wanted to reach Britain, which is visible from Calais on a clear day.
Some had wished to join relatives already there and most had planned to seek work, believing that jobs are more plentiful than in France.
– Contact us at [email protected]