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French police have used tear gas, violence and a 10-tonne Volvo bulldozer to evict migrants and destroy shelters created by 350 mostly Syrian refugees in four separate camps across Calais.
In morning raids, riot police forcibly evicted the predominantly Syrian, but also Eritrean and Sudanese, refugees from a warehouse in an industrial estate in Calais at the Paul-Devot hangar and an adjoining garden, where they had set up camps.
Elsewhere in the port city, which has become home to roughly 4,000 migrants, riot police yesterday (21 September) smashed the shelters of refugees and migrants living below a bridge and also evicted them from a church where some had been living for up to a year. Humanitarian groups working in the area have claimed at least one man was hospitalised in the ensuing police violence.
Maya Konforti, from the humanitarian group L'Auberge des Migrants, said she deeply regretted the decision of the authorities to evict the refugees just as colder weather had set in and she railed against the heavy-handed police tactics.
"They told them to leave, so they had to leave right away. They barely had the time to get out and to leave. They didn't have anything except the clothes on their back," she told IBTimes UK "It's just totally inhuman. No care, not pity. When you tell people to evacuate, you can talk with them, you could have discussions," she added.
Konforti explained that the mix of refugees and migrants in living in the areas outside the area's main 'Jungle' camp had permission to be there, with the exception of the garden. She explained that those who had little to begin with had lost most of their belongings in the raids.
"They didn't even get the time to take their personal belongings, they lost their money, their clothing, their documents, their phones," she said.
The worst of the violence took place, Konforti explained, as the migrants who had been pushed back towards the Jungle refused to move past its entrance. It was then that clashes and confrontations with police took place.
French officials have said the evictions were necessary because of health concernsm but with the Jungle, an informal camp of a dozen hundred or so tents on the edge of Calais close to capacity and with floods caused by recent heavy rain, Konforti does not see how they will fair better now their dwellings have been destroyed.
The raids appear to be part of a pattern in which French authorities have shown themselves to be increasingly intolerant of migrant camps outside the Jungle and the Jules-Ferry Centre.
Syrian refugees, who have been arriving in increasing numbers to Calais over the past month, have looked to stay outside of the Jungle.