Page last updated at 20:11 GMT, Wednesday, 16 September 2009 21:11 UK

France to close migrant 'jungle'

By Emma-Jane Kirby
BBC News, Paris

Migrant in Calais
Some 1,500 migrants live in dirty settlements in Calais

France has said it intends to close the camp in Calais known as "the jungle", where migrants gather to try to reach the UK.

Immigration Minister Eric Besson told French television that the illegal gathering of tents and shelters should close imminently.

The jungle has replaced official camps like Sangatte as a gathering point.

Mr Besson said the closure would send a strong message that people traffickers could no longer use Calais.

'Humane operation'

Mr Besson is due to hold talks on the issue with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on Thursday.


Desperate lives of Calais migrants - first broadcast in March 2009

He said it would be the local Calais authorities who would set the exact date for clearing the makeshift camps near the port but added that in any case it would be closed before the end of next week.

Making human beings illegal creates human trafficking
Mark, Newcastle, UK

Some 1,500 migrants are now living in insanitary settlements in Calais and neighbouring areas, hoping to cross to Britain.

The minister promised that the operation would be carried out humanely and that each illegal immigrant would be offered the chance to apply for asylum or to return voluntarily to their country of origin.

Many of the migrants come from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The minister insisted they would not be forcibly returned.

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