CALAIS, France – Firefighters have doused several dozen fires set by migrants as they left the makeshift camp where they have been living near the northern French city of Calais.
Steve Barbet, spokesman for the regional prefecture, said Wednesday that one migrant was slightly injured and taken to the Calais hospital. About 100 migrants were evacuated overnight to a no man’s land at the entrance of the camp known as “the jungle”.
Firefighters tackled the flames in shelters and small shops. Prefect Fabienne Buccio had said Tuesday night that migrants “have a tradition” of burning their shelters before leaving.
After two full days of a weeklong operation, French authorities have already transported thousands of migrants to reception centres around France.
The camp used to be temporary home to 6,300 migrants according to authorities. Aid groups counted more than 8,000 people.
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On Tuesday, French police were deployed to keep order among the young migrants in the camp. Dozens jumped over railings in an attempt to get to the camp’s temporary processing centre, the first step to being relocated in France. Most identified themselves as unaccompanied minors with relatives across the English Channel in the U.K.
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The camp had become known for squalid conditions, prompting French President Francois Hollande to call the Jungle a “humanitarian emergency.” Many residents have complained of inadequate food and water and filthy toilets shared by hundreds. Fourteen migrants have died this year in the Calais area. Reports have described the camp as “diabolical” and “obscene.”
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Many of the migrants are from countries such as Afghanistan, Syria and Eritrea and had wanted to reach Britain, which is connected to France by a rail tunnel and visible from Calais on a clear day. Some had wished to join up with relatives already there and most had planned to seek work, believing that jobs are more plentiful than in France.
– With files from Reuters