The vast ‘Jungle’ camp full of UK-bound migrants in Calais is set to be torn down, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve announced today.
As he prepared to visit the port town, the Socialist politician said he wanted to see the thousands living there dispersed to other parts of France.
It follows pledgees by his conservatives opponents, including former president Nicolas Sarkozy, to also raze the Jungle, but to send those living there straight to Britain.
Mr Cazeneuve said he would press ahead with his own plans ‘with the greatest determination’, so as to ‘unblock Calais’.
Outlining a policy that has failed in the past, he said coaches and planes would be used to take them to refugee centres as far away as the south of France.
Earlier this year, demolition crews supported by riot squads demolished the south side of the camp.
Despite the destruction of hundreds of shelters, the number of people in the Jungle has almost doubled to around 10,000.
‘We have dismantled the southern area in early March, and we have already begun that of the north’, said Mr Cazeneuve.
‘This has to be done in stages, starting with creating more accommodation places in France, so as to relieve Calais.’
Speaking to Nord Littoral newspaper, Mr Cazeneuve insisted the number of people in Calais was in fact less than 7000, and that more than 5000 have been dispersed to centres around France over the past year.
In the meantime, Mr Cazeneuve wants to increase the record 1,900 French police currently in Calais to around 2200.
This is in response to the increasingly fraught security situation, which has seen gangs of migrants regularly blocking roads to try and get aboard lorries heading for England.