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Hollande: Calais migrant camp to be 'completely dismantled'

Watch now: The Calais camp, home to up to 10,000 refugees, could be dismantled [Getty/AFP]

Date of publication: 26 September, 2016

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Video: France's president has vowed to close the camp where thousands have taken refuge, while urging Britain to play a bigger role in humanitarian efforts.
French President Francois Hollande says the Calais "jungle" camp must be completely dismantled while urging the UK to step up its efforts to tackle the crisis.

Hollande has vowed to close the camp on the outskirts of the port city, despite growing controversy over the fate of thousands of refugees.

Most of them are from Sudan and Afghanistan, with many attempting to cross the Channel to Britain by stowing away on lorries.

"I am determined to see British authorities play their part in the humanitarian effort that France is undertaking here," Hollande said on Monday on a visit to the port city.

The "jungle" holds between 7,000 and 10,000 people, according to various estimates, and has become a sore point in relations between France and Britain.

Under pressure from the right wing, Hollande been forced to take a visible stance to combat illegal migration, promising to "completely dismantle" the camp.

His government has said this will happen "before winter" and preparations under way there suggest the operation may begin shortly.

But plans to relocate hundreds to reception centres around the country has sparked controversy and protests, with residents in neighbourhoods where new shelters could be built strongly opposing the move.

Meanwhile, work has started on the construction of a UK-funded 13ft high concrete wall, stretching nearly a mile long, to prevent refugees from climbing into vehicles.

The "great wall" of Calais is part of a £17 million package of security measures agreed by the two countries in March.

On Monday Hollande, who will be fighting for re-election next year, will meet with police, local politicians, business leaders and representatives from civil society groups – but will not visit the camp itself.

Migration has been a low-key issue over the last four year's of Hollande's presidency.

But he has been forced to take a visible stance on the issue, under pressure from conservative predecessor Nicholas Sarkozy and far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

"We are nearing a solution," said Hollande, assuring that the issue would be resolved in accordance with "the values of the Republic."

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