Thousands of migrants are being displaced as France dismantles the “Jungle” in Calais

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This morning (Oct. 24) French authorities began evacuating the so-called “Jungle,” one of Europe’s largest migrant camps, which until today had been the temporary home to about 8,000.

The camp, in the northern port city of Calais, first appeared in 1999 as a waiting ground for people hoping to cross into Britain, and has since turned into a sprawling settlement with precarious living conditions. The growing migrant and refugee crises led the Calais camp population to reach 10,000, prompting both humanitarian concerns and anti-immigration actions.

Just last month, under commission from the UK, French authorities started building a wall that would block access from the camp to the highway that leads to the tunnel between France and the UK, with the aim of stopping migrants trying to perilously hop on trucks crossing into Britain.

The French government plans to begin demolishing the camp tomorrow, and, by Wednesday, to bus its residents to 451 immigrant shelters across several regions of France that have a total availability of 7,500 beds. Sixty buses are scheduled to leave today, with 50 more to run tomorrow and 45 on Wednesday.

All of the migrants from the Calais camp will go through processing before they get on the bus. The majority of migrants in Calais have the right to international protection, and will be provided assistance in the shelters as they try to make an official asylum request. Those that do qualify will likely be required to stay in France as refugees. Those who won’t qualify for will be considered economic migrants and likely will face repatriation orders.

Until today, the government’s involvement in the camp has been minimal; management was left mostly to volunteer humanitarian organizations. As the evacuation of the camp approached last night there were clashes between the police and some of the camp residents who wanted to stay. However, the French paper Libération reports (link in French) the operation has largely been peaceful so far, and care has been made to ensure children are granted the special treatment required by international humanitarian laws (pdf).

The action to evacuate has drawn some criticism as an anti-migrant act, but it also has found support among some residents of the camp, many of whom are tired of living in such precarious situations.

French CRS police are in silhouette as they pass flames on the eve of the evacuation and transfer of migrants to reception centers in France, and the dismantlement of the camp called the "Jungle" in Calais, France, October 23, 2016.       REUTERS/Philippe Wojazer     - RTX2Q435
(Reuters/Philippe Wojazer)
epa05600543 A refugee watches a shelter burn during the start of the expulsion of a part of the Jungle migrant camp in Calais, France, 29 February 2016.  A court in Lille, northern France, upheld an expulsion order issued by local authorities to clear part of the migrant camps. Tensions rose as riot police fired tear gas in the direction of onlookers while workers bulldozed the makeshift huts.  EPA/LAURENT DUBRULE
(EPA/Laurent Dubrule)
epa05600415 Migrants wait for their evacuation next to the makeshift camp 'the Jungle' as its dismantlement begins in Calais, France, 24 October 2016. The camp gathering more than 7,000 migrants will start being dismantled, a process that shall take a week according tho the French authorities.  EPA/ETIENNE LAURENT
(EPA/Etienne Laurent)
Migrants carrying their belongings leave a makeshift camp known as "the jungle" near Calais, northern France, to register at a processing centre, Monday Oct. 24, 2016. Oct. 24, 2016. French authorities say the closure of the slum-like camp in Calais will start on Monday and will last approximatively a week in what they describe as a "humanitarian" operation. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
(AP Photo/Thibault Camus))
Migrants line-up to register at a processing centre in the makeshift migrant camp known as "the jungle" near Calais, northern France, Monday Oct. 24, 2016. French authorities are beginning a complex operation, unprecedented in Europe, to shut down the makeshift camp, uprooting thousands who made treacherous journeys to escape wars, dictators or grinding poverty and dreamed of making a life in Britain. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
(AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
A migrant sits on some disused rail tracks as he waits to register at a processing centre in the makeshift migrant camp known as "the jungle" near Calais, northern France, Monday Oct. 24, 2016. French authorities are beginning a complex operation, unprecedented in Europe, to shut down the makeshift camp, uprooting thousands who made treacherous journeys to escape wars, dictators or grinding poverty and dreamed of making a life in Britain. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
(AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)
Migrants carrying their belongings leave a makeshift camp known as "the jungle" near Calais, northern France, to register at a processing centre, Monday Oct. 24, 2016. Oct. 24, 2016. French authorities say the closure of the slum-like camp in Calais will start on Monday and will last approximatively a week in what they describe as a "humanitarian" operation. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
(AP Photo/Thibault Camus))
Migrants hand over their luggage to friends from over a fence as they prepare to be registered at a processing centre in a makeshift camp known as "the jungle" near Calais, northern France,  Monday Oct. 24, 2016. Oct. 24, 2016. French authorities say the closure of the slum-like camp in Calais will start on Monday and will last approximatively a week in what they describe as a "humanitarian" operation. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
(AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
epa05600828 Migrants wait to board a bus during their evacuation, next to the makeshift camp 'the Jungle' as its dismantling begins in Calais, France, 24 October 2016. The camp holding more than 7,000 migrants will start being dismantled, a process that shall take a week according tho the French authorities.  EPA/THIBAULT VANDERMERSCH
(EPA/Thibault Vandermersch)
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