(AFP) – The total dismantling of the “Jungle” migrant camp in northern France will begin soon, a French minister said in comments published Friday.
The makeshift settlement in Calais has become a focal point in France of Europe’s migrant crisis, the subject of heated debate among politicians and a constant source of tension with Britain, which is where the migrants hope to end up.
“The dismantlement will begin when all the conditions for success are in place,” Housing Minister Emmanuelle Cosse told the Liberation daily. “We are almost there and we will carry on to the end,” she added.
The minister insisted that it was “out of the question to leave these people living any longer in that mud and that distress” deeming another winter in the Jungle “impossible”.
Eleven French charities on Wednesday sought a court order to block the planned demolition, deeming it an attack on fundamental rights.
No date has yet been announced for the camp to be evacuated but French President Francois Hollande has already said that it will be razed by the end of the year.
The plan then is to scatter the migrants from the “Jungle” to around a hundred reception centres across France, and at least some camp residents seem willing to make a go of it.
The “Jungle” currently holds around 5,700 people from Africa, the Middle East and Asia, according to local authorities.
Charities have estimated the number at up to 10,000.
One outstanding problem is what to do with the 1,300 unaccompanied minors living there.
Cosse admitted that there is “hostility” to the plans in some parts of the country, adding however that “most of the local actors are playing the game”.