Calais is a blind alley for migrants, warns UK ambassador

French anti-riot policemen stand guard a gathering of migrants during the full evacuation of the Calais "Jungle" camp, in Calais, northern France,Picture: / AFP PHOTO / FRANCOIS LO PRESTIFRANCOIS LO PRESTI/AFP/Getty Images
French anti-riot policemen stand guard a gathering of migrants during the full evacuation of the Calais "Jungle" camp, in Calais, northern France,Picture: / AFP PHOTO / FRANCOIS LO PRESTIFRANCOIS LO PRESTI/AFP/Getty Images
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France will not tolerate another Jungle camp springing up in Calais, the country’s ambassador to the UK has insisted.

Sylvie Bermann said the French government wants to show migrants that the port city is a “blind alley” which will not gain them access to Britain.

She told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “The government is determined to stop people coming back to Calais. We won’t let them come. It has to be clear that Calais is a blind alley, and you can’t come to this country. If they are refugees they will go to other centres.

“We will leave policemen there for the time being. There are more than 2,000 policemen there.”

As French authorities continued to dismantle and empty the squalid camp, the ambassador insisted that Britain had been asked to take all the unaccompanied children from the Jungle settlement.

Ms Bermann said 600 children are now in special centres in Calais waiting to be processed.

“What we asked the British Government is to take all unaccompanied children, and they said they want to process the cases and check if they have families here. It’s impossible for the French to know if they really have families in the UK. So we gave the list to the UK Government and now they will have to process,” she said.

The comments came as more Calais refugees and migrants are set to join the thousands who left the Jungle camp on Monday.

Thousands of people packed their bags on the first day of the mass exodus, French officials said.

About 2,000 residents, including around 300 minors, were thought to have passed through the registration centre on the fringe of the camp on Monday, according to the French Interior Ministry.

Crowds carrying rucksacks, holdalls and wheeled bags, many with scarves over their faces, queued from sunrise to sunset to register for accommodation centres after being told they must leave the camp or risk arrest and deportation.

People in the queues said they had no idea where they were going but many seemed resigned to leaving the camp, where demolition work is expected to begin later.

The Care4Calais refugee crisis charity supplied people with thousands of rucksacks over the weekend and worked to prepare them psychologically for Monday’s mass eviction.

While small scuffles broke out and punches were thrown, most people waited patiently, crammed inside the barriers, which armed riot police then widened to give them more space.

The general atmosphere was less volatile than after-dark scenes at the weekend when violent clashes saw camp residents throwing stones at riot police on the perimeter, who fought back by firing tear gas.

Around 1,250 police have been drafted in to ensure the eviction runs smoothly, an officer on the ground said.

Migrants and refugees who travel to reception centres have been told they will have to claim asylum in France within a set period of time or face deportation.

Those who pass through the registration centre are being sorted into groups of families, minors, vulnerable or ill people and others travelling alone.

Aid workers have advised refugees and migrants to register for the buses together as they believe this will give certain groups of friends or communities the best chance of not being separated.

A further 85 buses are expected to arrive on Tuesday and Wednesday, with officials saying the entire operation will last at least a week.

Unaccompanied minors are the only group permitted to stay in Calais, where they are being taken to shipping containers with bunk beds in a secure area of the camp.

The transfer of vulnerable children to the UK has been temporarily halted while authorities work to clear the camp.

The charity Help Refugees said the “chaotic set-up” had meant minors already living in the containers had been forced to vacate them and register at the warehouse only to be sent straight back afterwards, which was “extremely distressing and confusing” for them.

There are about 900 unaccompanied minors in the camp.