France completes clearance of Calais refugee camp

Authorities shifted refugees from the squalid makeshift camp also known as the "Jungle" to reception and orientation centres set up across France.

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The camp had become a symbol of Europe’s faltering efforts to solve the refugee crisis.

France has completed the relocation of refugees and migrants from a makeshift camp in Calais, where tents and shelters set on fire by some of its dwellers are still ablaze, a regional official announced on Wednesday. 

The operation mostly went on peacefully, although some tents and shelters were torched in a last gesture of defiance as the camp's inhabitants saw their hopes of a new life in Britain vanish.

The squalid camp, known as the "Jungle," had become a symbol of Europe’s faltering efforts to solve the refugee crisis.

Local opposition to the sprawling slum, along with growing criticism from right-wing politicians, finally prompted the French government to take action.

"This is the end of the 'Jungle'," Calais' regional prefect Fabienne Buccio said. "Mission accomplished."

Buccio said about 5,000 refugees and migrants had gone through a processing centre before being transferred away by bus to the reception and orientation centres across France. He said another 1,000 were still queuing at the processing centre.

The clearing of the camp began on Monday and was completed in three days. It was home to 6,000 to 8,000 refugees and migrants fleeing poverty and war in the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

They hoped to cross the short stretch of sea to Britain by trying to leap on trucks and trains, or even walk through the Channel Tunnel which connects Calais with the UK.

Earlier in the day, riot police took positions around the camp. Fire tenders also arrived to put out blazes that sent plumes of smoke into the sky. (AFP)

Britain, however, refused to accept the vast majority of them -- apart from a number of unaccompanied child refugees now being processed separately.

High fences were built in Calais to keep them away from the port traffic, but refugees and migrants continued to arrive.​

TRTWorld and agencies