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France to shut down ‘Jungle’ migrant camp early next week

The French government confirmed Friday that it will close a migrant camp known as “the Jungle” in Calais starting next week.

It plans to relocate the camp’s residents to refugee centers in other parts of the country, BBC reported.

Aid groups pushed to delay the closure, but a French court denied that request earlier this week.

“The government needs to take its time; otherwise, half of the people in the ‘Jungle’ won’t find a place in the relocation process,” Frederic Amiel an official with Emmaus, the British-based homelessness charity, told the Associated Press. “They will disperse and return,” he added.

The camp, located in northern France, has become a hub for migrants hoping to cross the English channel into the U.K. and is home to as many as 10,000 migrants from Africa and the Middle East.

The camp has long been a source of controversy. In early September, truckers, farmers, dockworkers and merchants blocked the main access route to Britain in protest over “disruption” caused by the migrants.

The French port of Calais has been inundated with thousands of migrants seeking ways to reach the United Kingdom. Blocked from transportation across the English Channel, the migrants have established a squalid camp, while residents of Calais feel the crisis is hurting the town. Special correspondent Malcolm Brabant reports.

Fabienne Buccio, head of the local administration, said the French government had 4,400 accommodations around France for the migrants, the AP reported.

The UK has agreed to take in some of the unaccompanied children in the camp who have relatives in that country. France also announced 80 college-aged students are being enrolled in a public university in Lille where they will learn French.

Migrants will be able to apply for asylum when they are relocated, French officials said earlier this summer.

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