Police clear Calais migrant camps

Mass operation to clear illegal camps being used by migrants coming to Britain. 23 October 2008. Hundreds of officers began to clear a camp that was temporary home to 350 Eritreans who were expected to try to claim asylum in the UK. Some of the would-be migrants tried to escape over a wall, but most gave themselves up immediately.

Although mostly young men claiming to be refugees from the east African state of Eritrea, they also included 24 women and 10 young children. Two pregnant women were taken to hospital for checks.

The operation targets the estimated 1,000 people sleeping rough in the port in northern France, where they try each night to smuggle themselves on to lorries heading to the UK.
It follows an expulsion order issued by the civil court of nearby Boulogne-sur-Mer following an increase in violence and anti-social behaviour among the migrants.

In August a journalism student from London was raped in one of the camps, known as The Jungle. There have also been stabbings during gang fights between different groups of migrants, with drug abuse and theft described by local police as "rampant".

Gerard Gavory, the sub-prefect of Calais who was in charge of the expulsion, said: "The objective was not to arrest these people. Each was able to pick up their belongings and leave on their own accord if they wanted to.

"But later, we reminded them that there are other solutions to getting shelter."

Jean-Claude Lenoir, of the charity organisation Salam, said he was "furious" at what had happened. "All charities and even journalists were barred from watching the clean-up. These migrants were treated like dangerous terrorists.

"They have absolutely nowhere to go now, except to Britain."

The "clean-up" operations have started following the election of Natacha Bouchart, the new mayor Calais and a member of President Nicolas Sarkozy’s Right-wing UMP party.

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