French authorities began today to evict the refugees living a sprawling refugee camp in the northern city of Calais, a settlement that was full of migrants trying to make their way to the United Kingdom on the other side of the English Channel.
More than 7,000 people, many of them from Africa, Syria, and Afghanistan, are expected to be relocated from the camp, which, with its tents and makeshift shanty homes, has become known as the “Jungle.”
Hundreds left early Monday, lining up to be processed by French authorities and then sent to busses to be taken to different parts of France to live and apply for asylum, according to the BBC. Paris and Corsica will not be offered as options for relocation, the New York Times said.
"It doesn't matter where I end up, I don't really care,” Amadou Diallo, from the West African nation of Guinea, told Reuters.
Nearly 200 children from the camp have been brought to the UK, but there are an estimated 1,300 unaccompanied children who are still there, according to the BBC. Earlier this year, 129 children disappeared when authorities demolished part of the Jungle, sparking fears that they had become trafficking victims.
French officials have not said where the children will ultimately end up, but said they will be moved to converted shipping containers temporarily to be interviewed by French and British officials, according to Reuters.
"It's cold here," a Sudanese teenager who identified himself as Abdallah told Reuters. "Maybe we'll be able to leave in a bus later, or next week, for Britain."
Authorities will begin dismantling the encampment on Tuesday, the BBC said.
Aid workers have been going around the tent city talking to refugees about the process of dismantling the camp, according to Reuters.
According to The New York Times, the camp was home to as many as 10,000 people at its peak, complete with cafes, restaurants, and shops, with up to 100 new residents arriving each day.
One aid worker, Christian Salome, of the group Auberge des Migrants, told Reuters he expected that the effort this week to break up the camp would send residents fleeing into the surrounding countryside to hide for awhile before rebuilding the camp later.
"Each time they dismantle part of the camp it's the same thing. You're going to see them go into hiding and then come back. The battles will continue," he said.