French police evacuate migrants' shelter

8th February 2010, Comments 0 comments

The newly-opened makeshift shelter in the Channel port of Calais was shut down a day after it was set up.

Calais – French police on Sunday shut down a makeshift shelter for migrants in the Channel port of Calais, just 24 hours after an activist group had opened up the centre.

About 90 migrants spent the night at a warehouse in Calais, the northern city that has been at the centre of a government campaign to prevent foreigners trying to illegally enter Britain from setting up base there.

Dozens of anti-riot police cordoned off the area on Sunday and blocked the entrance to the shed set up by the "No Border" group.

Most of the migrants, mostly from Afghanistan but also Iraqi Kurds and Iranians, left the building Sunday afternoon to get food and anti-riot police prevented them from returning.

Police then moved in to evacuate the dozen migrants that were left behind.

"They forced their way in. There are no more migrants inside," said Helene, an activist from the No Border group who was escorted out of the shed by two police officers.

France in September sent bulldozers and police to shut down an Afghan migrant camp in Calais known as "the jungle", drawing praise from Britain which had long demanded a crackdown on cross-Channel illegal migration.

Immigration Minister Eric Besson called the group's action "unacceptable" and vowed in a statement that France would not let a "new jungle" spring up in near the Channel.

He warned that a new camp for migrants would "serve as a rear base for human trafficking rings near the port of Calais."

A group called SOS support for undocumented workers rented the building several weeks ago to allow No Border activists to set up the shelter for the migrants, said SOS group spokesman Rodolphe Nettier.

Calais Mayor Natacha Bouchart had said she was ready to sign an eviction order to quickly get the migrants out of the warehouse.

The French government's decision to raze the camp and deport Afghans by charter flight with Britain has been sharply criticised by rights groups who argue that many migrants should be given protection as refugees.

Britain stopped 28,000 migrants trying to cross the 35 kilometres (22 miles) of water that separates it from France in 2008.

AFP / Expatica

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