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19 Jan, 2016 07:11

Bulldozers pull down Calais Jungle as authorities relocate migrants to container camp

Diggers and bulldozers protected by riot police have begun carving a path towards the Calais ‘Jungle’ camp - home to thousands of refugees - after authorities told the migrants to move into new housing so the original makeshift camp can be destroyed.

French authorities want to create a 100-meter buffer zone between the Calais camp and the bordering motorway to protect thousands of lorries from migrant attacks, as the refugees try to board trucks headed to the UK.

“The migrants are invited to move from the tents to go into the containers and the facilities that have been fitted,” Philippe Mignonet, deputy mayor of Calais, told RT. “There have been lots of things created there which are illegal and they must disappear, as simple as that, they must disappear.”

Last week the city's authorities gave Calais Jungle residents until last Thursday to leave the area, but extended the grace period until Monday. Ahead of the clean-up effort, many of those living in the Jungle had already moved into 125 homes formed from converted shipping containers in an area adjacent to the camp.

READ MORE: Clearing the Jungle? Refugees vow to fight camp evictions by French police

"We think if we move in we will be first in line for asylum in Britain," Afghan refugee Azatullah Sisiqi told RT.

Yet over 1,500 refugees have refused to move.

Opting to live in a 12-bed container fitted with electricity and heating requires migrant finger prints prior to entry, something that many feel would ruin their chances of crossing the English Channel.

"There [in the containers] they are like in the zoo! Here we are wild and free! They have a prison there, the police force you to stay in France. If the police come we will refuse to move, [we] want to be free and to go to England," said Sajawal Abbas, a refugee from Pakistan.

Refugee supporters and campaign groups such as No Borders have criticized the introduction of the container village, calling it a “concentration camp.”