France to evict almost 1,000 migrants from 'jungle' near Calais

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PARIS, Feb 12 (Reuters) - France plans to close part of a camp for migrants near Calais on its northern Channel coast within a week, forcing almost 1,000 people to leave, officials said on Friday.

Thousands of people fleeing poverty and war have converged at a camp near Calais called the "jungle" over the past year in hopes of making it to Britain where lower unemployment, the English language and fewer identity checks are still seen as big draws.

SEE ALSO: Migrants build society in French camp they call 'The Jungle'

French authorities said they would offer 750 migrants, many from Africa and the Middle East, spaces in a state-run shelter made of converted shipping containers, opened last month. The south part of the camp will then be flattened in a week's time.

The containers, designed to accommodate up to 1,500 people, are equipped with bunk beds, heaters and windows but lack toilets and showers. Many refugees told Reuters they were reluctant to move there because access is controlled by handprint technology.

Calais migrants prepare for winter:

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NTP: Migrants prepare for winter, fight for life in Calais
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France to evict almost 1,000 migrants from 'jungle' near Calais
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Others would be encouraged to move to other migrant centers in France.

"I hope we don't have to make an eviction by force," Fabienne Buccio, the regional prefect, told Reuters. "The conditions are there for us to do that and flatten part of the camp that gives Calais a bad image."

The decision comes a month after authorities decided to clear a 100-meter (110-yard) strip next to a road that passes above the camp, forcing some 500 to 700 people to move their tents.

An estimated 4,000 migrants now live in the state shelters and in the "jungle." This number had spiked to 6,000 in September and many believe the figure will rise again as the spring approaches.

Incidents involving migrants and the police have surged since last October when security near the Channel Tunnel was reinforced to prevent anybody from entering the Eurotunnel infrastructure.

On Jan. 23, some 200 refugees managed to break into the port of Calais, enabling some of them to board the front deck of a British ferry, after a demonstration of support for migrants.

Banksy's London street art slams Calais' use of tear gas on migrants:

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New Banksy artwork in London slams use of tear gas at Calais camp
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France to evict almost 1,000 migrants from 'jungle' near Calais
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 25: A man views a Banksy artwork opposite the French embassy on January 25, 2016 in London, England. The graffiti, which depicts a young girl from the musical Les Miserables with tears in her eyes as CS gas moves towards her, criticises the use of teargas in the 'Jungle' migrant camp in Calais. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 25: A woman looks on as a broadcast journalist is filmed scanning the QR code on a Banksy artwork opposite the French embassy on January 25, 2016 in London, England. The graffiti, which depicts a young girl from the musical Les Miserables with tears in her eyes as CS gas moves towards her, criticises the use of teargas in the 'Jungle' migrant camp in Calais. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 25: A passer-by takes a photograph of a Banksy artwork opposite the French embassy on January 25, 2016 in London, England. The graffiti, which depicts a young girl from the musical Les Miserables with tears in her eyes as CS gas moves towards her, criticises the use of teargas in the 'Jungle' migrant camp in Calais. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 25: British people look at new Banksy artwork opposite the French embassy in London, United Kingdom on January 25, 2016. The graffiti, which depicts a young girl from the musical Les Miserables with tears in her eyes as tear gas moves towards her, criticises the use of teargas on Refugees. (Photo by Tolga Akmen/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 25: A man views a Banksy artwork opposite the French embassy on January 25, 2016 in London, England. The graffiti, which depicts a young girl from the musical Les Miserables with tears in her eyes as CS gas moves towards her, criticises the use of teargas in the 'Jungle' migrant camp in Calais. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 25: A passing cyclist takes a photograph of a Banksy artwork opposite the French embassy on January 25, 2016 in London, England. The graffiti, which depicts a young girl from the musical Les Miserables with tears in her eyes as CS gas moves towards her, criticises the use of teargas in the 'Jungle' migrant camp in Calais. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 25: A Banksy artwork is created opposite the French embassy on January 25, 2016 in London, England. The graffiti, which depicts a young girl from the musical Les Miserables with tears in her eyes as CS gas moves towards her, criticises the use of teargas in the 'Jungle' migrant camp in Calais. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 25: People photograph a Banksy artwork opposite the French embassy on January 25, 2016 in London, England. The graffiti, which depicts a young girl from the musical Les Miserables with tears in her eyes as CS gas moves towards her, criticises the use of teargas in the 'Jungle' migrant camp in Calais. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JANUARY 25: A new Banksy artwork is seen opposite the French embassy in London, United Kingdom on January 25, 2016. The graffiti, which depicts a young girl from the musical Les Miserables with tears in her eyes as tear gas moves towards her, criticises the use of teargas on Refugees. (Photo by Tolga Akmen/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 25: Builders remove a sheet of wood covering a Banksy artwork moments after being told to take it down from the building opposite the French embassy on January 25, 2016 in London, England. The graffiti, which depicts a young girl from the musical Les Miserables with tears in her eyes as CS gas moves towards her, criticises the use of teargas in the 'Jungle' migrant camp in Calais. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 25: A woman walks past plywood hoarding covering a Banksy artwork opposite the French embassy on January 25, 2016 in London, England. The graffiti, which depicts a young girl from the musical Les Miserables with tears in her eyes as CS gas moves towards her, criticises the use of teargas in the 'Jungle' migrant camp in Calais. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 25: The QR code of a Banksy artwork is displayed opposite the French embassy on January 25, 2016 in London, England. The graffiti, which depicts a young girl from the musical Les Miserables with tears in her eyes as CS gas moves towards her, criticises the use of teargas in the 'Jungle' migrant camp in Calais. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 25: A woman holds a mobile phone showing the video that is linked from a QR code on a Banksy artwork opposite the French embassy on January 25, 2016 in London, England. The graffiti, which depicts a young girl from the musical Les Miserables with tears in her eyes as CS gas moves towards her, criticises the use of teargas in the 'Jungle' migrant camp in Calais. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
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Related news:
Street artist Banksy takes swipe at France on migrant crisis
Glimmers of civilization as Calais migrants brace for winter
Migrants break into Channel Tunnel, rail services disrupted

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