Clashes Erupt as French Police Dismantle ‘Jungle’ Migrant Camp in Calais
Clashes Erupt as French Police Dismantle ‘Jungle’ Migrant Camp in Calais

Clashes between migrants and riot police erupted as French demolition teams worked to dismantle a migrant camp in Calais knows as the Jungle.

Located across the English Channel, the city of Calais is a key port city for migrants who are trying to reach the United Kingdom. The city has both ferries and the Eurotunnel rail route to Britain.

The Jungle camp has grown explosively in past months amid Europe’s migrant crisis, fueling far-right sentiment in both Britain and France.

Scores of riot police were deployed to keep journalists and volunteers out as helmeted workers tackled the shelters one by one.

Scores of riot police were deployed to keep journalists and volunteers out as helmeted workers tackled the shelters one by one.

The BBC reports that riot police used teargas in response to migrants throwing stones at them.

Prefect Fabienne Buccio, who had ordered the camp evacuated and dismantled earlier this month, showed up as the operation began. Her office decried “intimidation” tactics by some activists who she said were manipulating migrants into refusing to accept government offers of shelter.

“Really three houses out of four—I mean three huts out of four, or three tents out of four—were already totally abandoned with a lot of garbage inside,” she said. Migrants, she said, “had the time necessary to gather their belongings. The rest was good enough to throw away.”

However, cameras zooming into huts captured scenes of daily life fully intact.

The start of what is likely to be a weeks-long operation came four days after a court ruled that shelters could come down—but not common areas like houses of worship, a school, a women’s center and library, much of it built with the help of French and British volunteers appalled by conditions in the makeshift camp.

French authorities are offering to relocate uprooted migrants into heated containers installed last month nearby, or at centers around France where they can decide whether to apply for asylum. Many have resisted the move, fearing it will hurt their chances of reaching Britain, and some migrant advocates say there isn’t enough space in the new area.

CALAIS, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 29:  Police officers confront migrants and activists as part of the 'jungle' migrant camp is cleared on February 29, 2016 in Calais, France  The French authorities have begun dismantling part of the migrant encampment in the northern French town of Calais and relocating people to purpose-built accommodation nearby.  (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
Police officers confront migrants and activists as part of the ‘jungle’ migrant camp is cleared on Feb. 29, 2016 in Calais, France. (Carl Court/Getty Images)

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Workers and police officers clear part of the ‘jungle’ migrant camp on Feb. 29, 2016 in Calais, France. (Carl Court/Getty Images)

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A hut burns as part of the ‘jungle’ migrant camp is cleared on Feb. 29, 2016 in Calais, France. (Carl Court/Getty Images)

Anti-riot policemen face migrants on February 29, 2016, during the dismantling of half of the "Jungle" migrant camp in the French northern port city of Calais. Clashes broke out between French riot police and migrants on February 29 as bulldozers moved into the grim shantytown on the edge of Calais known as the "Jungle" to start destroying hundreds of makeshift shelters. AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE HUGUEN / AFP / PHILIPPE HUGUEN        (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Anti-riot policemen face migrants on Feb. 29, 2016, during the dismantling of half of the “Jungle” migrant camp in the French northern port city of Calais. (PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images)

CALAIS, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 29:  A migrant attempts to extinguish a fire in a burning hut as police officers clear part of the 'jungle' migrant camp on February 29, 2016 in Calais, France  The French authorities have begun dismantling part of the migrant encampment in the northern French town of Calais and relocating people to purpose-built accommodation nearby.  (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
A migrant attempts to extinguish a fire in a burning hut as police officers clear part of the ‘jungle’ migrant camp on Feb. 29, 2016 in Calais, France. (Carl Court/Getty Images)

Police officers safeguard helmeted workers pulling down makeshift structures where migrants sleep in the southern sector of the camp near the northern port of Calais, France, Monday, Feb. 29, 2016. French authorities have begun dismantling the sprawling migrant camp in Calais where thousands are hanging out, hoping to make their way to a better life in Britain. (AP Photo/Chris den Hond)
Police officers safeguard helmeted workers pulling down makeshift structures where migrants sleep in the southern sector of the camp near the northern port of Calais, France, Monday, Feb. 29. (AP Photo/Chris den Hond)

Migrants run past burning tents in  a makeshift camp near Calais, France, Monday Feb. 29, 2016. French authorities have begun dismantling part of the sprawling camp locally referred to as "the jungle" where thousands are hanging out, hoping to make their way to a better life in Britain. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
Migrants run past burning tents in a makeshift camp near Calais, France, Monday Feb. 29, 2016. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

Migrants run past burning tents in a makeshift camp near Calais, France, Monday Feb. 29, 2016. Under the eye of hundreds of riot police, workers began pulling down tents and makeshift shelters in the sprawling camp in Calais on Monday, dismantling the fragile structures that have served as temporary homes for migrants hoping to make their way to a better life in Britain. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
Migrants run past burning tents in a makeshift camp near Calais, France, Monday Feb. 29, 2016. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

People run past a barricade set in front of a French riot police truck in a makeshift camp near Calais, France, Monday Feb. 29, 2016. Under the eye of hundreds of riot police, workers began pulling down tents and makeshift shelters in the sprawling camp in Calais on Monday, dismantling the fragile structures that have served as temporary homes for migrants hoping to make their way to a better life in Britain. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
People run past a barricade set in front of a French riot police truck in a makeshift camp near Calais, France, Monday Feb. 29, 2016. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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