France will begin dismantling the “Jungle” migrant camp in the port of Calais on Monday morning, officials say.
The 6,500 to 10,000 refugees living in the camp will be given two choices: Either to be deported back to their home countries, or to stay in some 300 temporary refugee centers across France, where they can apply for asylum.
Children who can prove that they have relatives in Britain may be allowed to travel to their family members.
The Jungle has become a powerful symbol of Europe’s failure to cope with the migrant crisis.
Many of the migrants attempt to reach the UK by boarding lorries as they approach ports or the Channel Tunnel.
Minors will be taken to the camp’s converted shipping containers during the dismantling of the rest of the Jungle, the interior ministry said in a statement.
The migrants who currently live in the containers – which were being used as temporary accommodation instead of makeshift tents – will be evacuated to make room for the minors.
On Monday, sixty buses are scheduled to transport 3,000 refugees to alternate refugee centers in other parts of France. Activists are claiming that they’ve come this far because they’re desperate to reach Britain, and they’ll resist being forced to leave. Furthermore, activists say, they’ll simply return to Calais as soon as they have a chance.
Officials say they are worried about crowds rushing to leave the camp during the first stage of the operation. From Tuesday, heavy machinery will be sent to clear the tents and shelters that have been left behind.
The Interior Ministry said that police forces “might be forced to intervene” if faced with resistance.
The people in the camp are escaping war or poverty mostly from Syria, Afghanistan, Sudan and Eritrea and . The reason that refugees have come to Calais in the first place is because it’s near the Eurotunnel that connects France to Britain underneath the English Channel.
Britain is a favorite destination because of liberal welfare and medical services policies, and because they prefer an English-speaking country. Refugees risk their lives by attempting to jump onto trucks that are headed through the Euro-tunnel.
Over the last three or four years, the refugee camp has become squalid, unsanitary and unsafe for most people, especially women and children. Attempts to move people out of the camp in the past have led to confrontations with police.