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French police on standby as migrants start evacuating Calais 'Jungle' camp

Camp residents have begun arriving at designated spots to be bussed to French reception centres.

France Migrants There were fires lit in the Calais camp last night ahead of today's evacuation. Emilio Morenatti / PA Images Emilio Morenatti / PA Images / PA Images

MIGRANTS HAVE BEGUN arriving at official meeting points set by French authorities as part of the full evacuation of the Calais “Jungle” camp.

Men and women carrying suitcases and bundles of possessions gathered in front of a warehouse which is serving as the main headquarters of the operation in which some 6,000 to 8,000 migrants will be moved to reception centres across the country.

A queue of around 60 people already stretched in front of the closed doors of the operational headquarters, under the glow of streetlights.

Dozens of riot police vehicles and other trucks carrying equipment had earlier set off in the direction of the operation centre, an AFP correspondent saw.

France’s government has billed the enormous operation to clear the camp as “humanitarian”. Three days have been set aside for the operation to clear the camp near Calais port.

It will allow the closure of the largest shanty town in France, which has grown up over the last 18 months, filled with refugees — mostly from Afghanistan, Sudan and Eritrea — seeking to cross the Channel to get to Britain.

“I feel very happy, I’ve had enough of the Jungle,” said 25-year-old Abbas from Sudan.

“There are a lot of people who don’t want to leave. There might be problems later. That’s why I came out first,” he added.

The closure of the squalid camp is aimed at relieving tensions in the Calais area, where clashes between police and migrants trying to climb onto trucks heading to Britain are an almost nightly occurrence.

As officials and charity workers spread out across the Jungle on Sunday distributing flyers about the camp’s impending demolition, some were still clinging to hopes of a new life across the Channel.

Sky News / YouTube

“They’ll have to force us to leave. We want to go to Britain,” said Karhazi, a young Afghan among many of the migrants who had their hearts set on Britain, believing it to offer better prospects.

“We have yet to convince some people to accept accommodation and give up their dream of Britain. That’s the hardest part,” Didier Leschi, head of the French immigration office OFII told AFP.

Around 1,250 police and security officials have been mobilised in order to ensure the smooth roll out of the operation.

Read: ‘Nobody wants that on their conscience’: Irish truck drivers fear deaths of migrants in trailers >

Read: British dentists aren’t happy about a plan to check child migrants’ ages by their teeth >

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