Riot Cops Begin Clearing Immigrant ‚Jungle‘

Around 600 officers were involved in the operation and they detained 278 people, of whom 132 said they were children.

Public order teams gathered at local barracks in the French port, ahead of the operation to detain illegal immigrants and demolish the makeshift camp, known as ‚the Jungle‘.

As the first dozen officers entered the camp a small group of rights activists formed a human chain trying to bar access to the migrants, shouting „no border, no nation, stop deportation“.

Police started peacefully leading out the migrants one by one, although a dozen who refused to move were dragged and carried out.

Officers also had minor scuffles with some protesters who shouted angrily while dozens of journalists looking on.

The protesters, some in tears, shouted slogans at the police, including: „Shame on France.“

Jessica Nora Shadia, 25, from Dunkirk, said: „It’s shameful. They treat people like animals. Children were being pushed to the floor as if people have nothing. It’s so sad.“

But French Immigration Minister Eric Besson said he wanted to „take down this jungle“.

„It’s the base camp of the traffickers, with people who are exploited, victims of violence, there are bosses and deputies, it’s the law of the jungle that rules and on French territory the law of the jungle cannot continue to rule,“ he said.

„The big bosses are not there but there are the lieutenants who are armed, they are organised, structured.

„They take themselves as forces of order, running a business. We need to break this chain of traffickers.“

British Home Secretary Alan Johnson welcomed the closure but denied the UK would be forced to take refugees from the camp: „Reports that the UK will be forced to take illegal immigrants from the ‚Jungle‘ are wrong,“ he said.

„Both countries are committed to helping individuals who are genuine refugees, who should apply for protection in the first safe country that they reach. We expect those who are not in need of protection to return home.“

The makeshift tent city grew up after France closed a large Red Cross centre at nearby Sangatte in 2002 under pressure from Britain, which saw it as a magnet for illegal immigrants.

The main focus was on an area about half a mile south-east of the main port, known as the ‚Pashtun jungle‘ due to the fact it is largely populated by Afghan migrants.

It is estimated there were around 300 migrants living in the Pashtun jungle, significantly fewer than in previous months.

Other migrant dwellings in Calais have already been hit by police raids, including a Sudanese ‚jungle‘ to the west of the port, and another Afghan dominated area on the dune land to the East, known as the ‚Hazara jungle‘.

A row of houses closer into the main town that is dominated by Africans, largely from Eritrea, has also been targeted.

According to aid agencies, the immigrants were taken in buses to police stations to be processed.

From there they will be sent back to the countries where they entered the European Union.

It was thought many will end up in Greece, one of the main points of entry for the immigrants. But aid agencies have predicted that many will end up back on the streets.

Fifteen-year-old Sail Pardes, from eastern Afghanistan, had been at the camp for six months and was hoping to make his way to England.

He said conditions were tough and he and his fellow immigrants were forced to live on basic rations such as pasta.

He added: „Most of the time we‘re tired. The most important thing is to get to England. I want to go to school and become a better person.“