Bulldozers level French migrant camp
Calais, France — Bulldozers began demolishing the makeshift migrant camp in northern France on Thursday, the day after it went up in flames and authorities declared it empty and a mass evacuation over.
Nearly 6,000 people headed to special centers around France over three days or were sheltered in heated containers, spared by the fires, in the camp. But an untold number of migrants were left behind, some clinging to their dream of reaching Britain from northern France, others who apparently missed the Wednesday cutoff for transport.
The top regional official said the hangers-on had come from elsewhere hoping to take advantage of the French offer to shelter the migrants so they can seek asylum.
The operation to rid the city of Calais of a humanitarian blight 18 months after the camp known as the jungle sprang up had been set to last at least a week. But dozens of fires that engulfed the camp brought it to an abrupt end after three days, leaving scores of migrants in the road on the camp’s edges.
Regional Prefect Fabienne Buccio, the highest state official here, said Thursday that information officers would fan out in search of migrants lingering in the camp “and we will welcome them.”
She said migrants gathering around the closed processing center came from Paris or even Germany to take advantage of France’s outstretched hand, but that only residents of the Calais camp had qualified.
Thousands of migrants were finding new temporary homes at 450 processing centers around France, transported by hundreds of buses. There they can apply for asylum.
“It’s very emotional for me. This is really a difference between day and night,” said Mohamed Ahmet, a Sudanese migrant arriving at his new home in Strasbourg, in eastern France, where greeters awaited. “I am received very well. I am very happy.”
French authorities said 5,596 people were evacuated in the complex operation. The number includes unaccompanied minors looked-after in the containers and 234 taken in by Britain.