French police have torn down a migrant camp in Calais, arrested 20 people and sent over 500 residents of the makeshift shelters to reception centers. It was the first operation of its kind in months.

The operation began at 5am at the Dunes industrial area of Calais, and “took place in peace,” the prefecture of Pas-de-Calais said in a statement, although Reuters photographs show tear gas being deployed and men throwing objects at the police.


Migrants throw objects at French police officers in a cloud of tear gas as police dismantle a makeshift shelter camp in Calais, France July 10, 2020. © Reuters/Pascal Rossignol

The 20 people arrested were found to have irregular immigration status and were apprehended “for placement in administrative detention,” the statement said. In addition to the 519 people who were sent to accommodation centers, 13 people who were minors or in a family group were sent to social rehabilitation centers.

The infamous Calais ‘jungle,’ once home to 9,000 people, was officially shut down in 2016, but migrants continue to set up camp there. The Dunes camp is nicknamed the ‘Big Jungle’ because it is the largest one in the area. Since the European Union eased Covid-19 border restrictions, more people are gathering at the French port town in the hope of reaching the United Kingdom via the Channel tunnel.