All the migrants at a camp near the northern French port city of Calais have left, the official heading the Pas de Calais administration says.
“The camp is finally empty,” Fabienne Buccio told BFMTV on Wednesday. “Today is the end of the Jungle.”
However, reporters at the scene say some inhabitants are attempting to return to the site, which is now in flames.
An RT reporter on the ground said some migrants are attempting to break through a police line in order to get back.
And BBC reporter Gavin Lee says some of the shantytown’s residents intend to stay.
— Gavin Lee (@GavinLeeBBC) October 26, 2016
Crews began the process of clearing the makeshift shelters at the so-called Jungle camp on Monday, when authorities started bussing people out.
Demolition work began the following day, with sledgehammers used to dismantle tents and containers. It is expected the bulldozers will move in today.
More than 5000 people have been taken to accommodation centres across France where they can apply for asylum, or to a container site near Calais.
About 1000 people were waiting at a transit centre near the camp for transport.
Fires set by gas canisters erupted at the site overnight.
Empty huts and tents were on fire, and television footage showed plumes of smoke over the area.
French prefecture say the three day operation to clear the Calais refugee camp is over – but chaotic scenes remain pic.twitter.com/XqW2EN9TS7
— Alan Travis (@alantravis40) October 26, 2016
There has been some resistance to the clearance by activists opposed to the measures and migrants reluctant to leave resulting to some violent clashes with police. However, Buccio insisted that the residents all came to the transit centre willingly.
Before authorities began clearing the camp, official figures placed the number of people living there at around 6500.
Many of the migrants – from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Sudan, Afghanistan and other countries – hoped to cross the English Channel and reach Britain.
Britain has agreed to take in unaccompanied children from the camp whose families are already in that country.
Plans to dismantle the camp, which has been in place for more than a year, have been long-disputed.
Non-profit organisations have criticised the move as a temporary fix, similar to other operations in the past that dismantled migrant camps near Calais only to see them reappear.
Cowering refugee children plead for UK help as Calais Jungle camp burns https://t.co/9JzLrQFRYW
— Martin Fricker (@martinfricker) October 26, 2016
National and regional authorities have defended their decision to dismantle the camp as a humanitarian choice, due to the squalid living conditions of the camp’s inhabitants.
– Claudia Kornmeier and Christian Boehmer