More than 100 children and as many adults were detained in a dawn raid on a makeshift migrants' camp near the entrance of the Channel Tunnel in northern France, the local police chief said.
CALAIS, FRANCE (SEPTEMBER 22, 2009) REUTERS - Children were among those who were detained by French riot police as they closed down a makeshift refugee camp near the entrance to the Channel Tunnel that the government says has become a magnet for criminals and people smugglers.
The children were among approximately 200 people who were detained amid scuffles with members of French pressure groups who had gathered to prevent the so-called Calais Jungle being dismantled.
Protesters cried and accused the police of acting without any dignity. But earlier, Immigration Minister Eric Besson said the move was essential to re-establish the rule of law.
Police took down details of the migrants who were detained and at least one person who appeared lightly injured was carried away, eyewitnesses said.
"The adults have already been placed in detention. We are going to verify their personal situations. Those in a legal situation will obviously be released with a proposition of accomodation. For months now, we have not detained anyone without proposing them some accomodation in Calais or somewhere nearby", said police chief Pierre Debousquet.
The French government announced the closure of the Jungle late last week, vowing to re-establish the rule of law in the patchy scrub of land with makeshift housing that serves as a jumping-off point for hundreds of migrants who smuggle onto Britain-bound lorries every year.