French authorities transferred 1,918 people voluntarily out of the makeshift migrant camp known as “the Jungle,” the U.N. Human Rights Council said on the first day of the mass evacuation.
The number of people processed Monday fell short of their goal of 3,000 in the week-long operation to dismantle the camp, the Associated Press reported.
Located 43 miles from Calais in northern France, the camp houses as many as 8,300 migrants, including at least 1,200 unaccompanied minors. The migrants, many who hoped to cross the English Channel into the UK, hail from Afghanistan, Sudan, Syria, among other countries.
“The informal camp for refugees and migrants in Calais known as ‘the Jungle’ is not an environment fit for human habitation,” William Spindler of UNHRC said of the camp’s closure.
More than 1,200 police have been dispatched to monitor the evacuation, which relocated the migrants to centers across France where they can apply for asylum.
Migrants started forming the camp as early as 18 months ago. The basic needs of the camp, which didn’t receive help from the state, were met by aid groups and volunteers.
French President Francois Hollande, who is up for re-election next year, is hoping to seal the France-U.K. border and rebut his conservative rivals’ claim that he has mishandled the country’s response to Europe’s migrant crisis.
Hollande has promised police forces will remain at the camp until it is dismantled.