Protests as children held in 'Jungle' migrants swoop

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Refugee groups attacked today's "distressing" swoop on the Jungle camp in Calais as calls were made for Britain to consider taking in some of the dozens of detained child immigrants.

Up to 600 French police surrounded the site on the edge of the English Channel port in an early morning swoop.

Amid angry scenes, French authorities said 278 people were detained, including 132 who declared themselves as children.

Later, bulldozers and tree surgeons moved in to clear the area.

Gemma Juma, policy manager at the Refugee Council, branded the camp's "hideous" conditions as shameful today and called on Britain to look at taking in any children with links to this country.



"We've always been concerned about the vulnerability of the people living in hideous conditions. The fact that so many are so young should make us ashamed that a better solution hasn't been found before now," she said.

"We need to make sure all of those children are safe and properly looked after.

"If this means, in a small number of cases, bringing them to the UK to be reunited with friends and family then, as an option, that should not be ruled out."

Julia Ravenscroft, spokeswoman for Refugee Action, said of today's police intervention: "There were some distressing scenes and some very young people taken from the camp this morning.

"The fact that the French had let people know what was going to happen in the morning meant that some of the very vulnerable, including children, were left behind."

Lisa Nandy, policy adviser at the Children's Society, added: "We are concerned by the reports that children have been detained.

"Obviously, it's a scary and terrifying experience for them - it would be for anyone - and we just hope that their care is prioritised from now.

"They should be given the opportunity to claim asylum in the UK and elsewhere."

Prefect of Pas-de-Calais Pierre de Bousquet de Florian said the detained adults were taken to various police stations and the children to "special centres".

Police circled the camp at first light and rounded up people who had been living in the tent city.

There were scuffles as the camp dwellers, some in tears, were led away.

Dozens of protesters had also gathered at the site ahead of the operation and chanted "shame on France" as police moved in.

Ahead of the swoop, many immigrants stood quietly behind banners that declared: "We need shelter and protection, we want peace."

As police entered the site, some activists shouted: "No borders. No nation. No deportation."

About 12 migrants who refused to move were dragged and carried out of the camp by police.

The camp has been home to hundreds of mainly Afghan asylum seekers.

French immigration minister Eric Besson hailed the operation.

"My objective was not to round up the greatest possible number of migrants by surprising them at dawn, but to destroy the continuous flow of trafficked human beings," he told a press conference.

Home Secretary Alan Johnson praised the "swift and decisive" clearing of the site by French authorities.

But he said genuine refugees should apply for asylum in the country where they entered the EU.

Sail Pardes, 15, from eastern Afghanistan, was at the camp for six months and hoped to make it across the Channel.

"The most important thing is to get to England," he said. "I want to go to school and become a better person."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Retirement Coordinator - Financial Services

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: To provide a prompt, friendly and efficient se...

Recruitment Genius: Annuities / Pensions Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will be the first point of contact for all...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee CAD Technician

£12800 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Trainee CAD Technician is req...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000+

£15600 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This renewable energy installat...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss