French authorities have began serving eviction notices to residents of the Calais migrant camp.
The move follows the approval of request for a partial demolition of the camp by a French judge.
The deadline for the nearly 1,000 migrants to leave the camp expired on Tuesday February 23.
So there are 3,000 people, the government says there are 1,000. The government has 1,000 places, not 3,000. Where will the other 2,000 go?
French authorities are ready to use force in case of any resistance. The plan is to move the migrants to alternative accommodation around a container park and other reception areas.
Farewell to the 'Jungle' – migrants begin to leave following court ruling https://t.co/VmWZ4PRsbR— euronews (@euronews) February 26, 2016
“Here they will not fight, but I am not sure they will leave because they said where will we go? One theme emerges every time, we didn’t come here to stay in France, we want to go to England and we are free to choose our country’,“Zimako Jones, founder of a school in the ‘jungle’ said.
It is believed some 4,000 people live in the “jungle”, down from about 6,000 in September. The authorities would like to see this number reduce further to around 2,000.
Humanitarian groups insist forced evictions would breach the migrants’ fundamental rights and could be detrimental to about 400 minors in the camp.
NGOs estimate the southern part of the “jungle” earmarked for demolition hosts about 3,400 migrants, more than triple the official figure.
“So there are 3,000 people, the government says there are 1,000. The government has 1,000 places, not 3,000. Where will the other 2,000 go? This is a big worry, it’s still very cold, it’s still winter. How can a judge accept to do this during the winter, especially when we know that there are many women, children and unaccompanied minors?” Maya Konforti, a volunteer with a migrant inn said.
A state-run park of converted shipping containers opened last month and has about 200 free beds out of a total capacity of 1,500, but it lacks toilets and showers.
The government has created various reception centres across France which can absorb the migrants. In spite of the available 600 beds, many refugees still believe the solution is to look for greener pastures in Britain.