Court approves closure of shops, eateries near Calais migrant camp

France's highest administrative court approved Wednesday the clearance of 72 stores and eateries in a makeshift migrant camp near the northern port city of Calais.

Thousands of people have set up shelters in the so-called "Jungle" camp. A state-run accommodation centre is only able to take care of a fraction of the migrants, many of whom are trying to cross the English Channel to Britain.

Local authorities had requested permission to clear the sites in July, citing the risk of fire and other health issues.

A court in Lille rejected that request in August, but that decision was overturned Wednesday by the Conseil d'Etat.

While the court in Lille acknowledged the businesses filled unmet needs, the Conseil d'Etat said it is the state's responsibility to ensure asylum seekers have what they need.

While estimates of the number of people currently living at the camp have ranged between 7,000 and 10,000 people, local authorities released the latest count on Wednesday putting the figure between 5,684 and 6,486 people.

France terre d'asile, a non-profit organization working at the camp, have counted 1,300 minors, 40 per cent of whom say they have family in Britain.

British and French authorities have worked out agreements to allow unaccompanied minors who have families in Britain to cross the Channel.

French authorities have said they would clear the camp entirely before the end of the year. A government plan to set up longer term accommodation centres around France has been met with opposition.

Authorities for the Calais region said that 5,966 migrants have left the camps since October 2015 to be sheltered in some 164 accommodation centres throughout France.

Last update: Wed, 12/10/2016 - 22:04

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