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French police chase migrants with bulldozers

FRENCH police used bulldozers to chase over 650 Syrian, Afghan and African migrants from their camps in port city Calais today — destroying homes as they went.

Dozens of migrants and immigration activists gathered nearby at one of the camps, some angrily trying to prevent the police from evacuating it.

Police officers checked inside tents and under tarpaulins for migrants before sealing off the camps in the early morning.

Calais authorities claimed that they wanted the camps cleared out because of a scabies epidemic they alleged was hitting the residents.

Several of the migrants fled when they saw busloads of riot police arrive and surround their camps, from which they had hoped to cross to Britain.

Confusion was widespread, particularly at one of the largest camps, as the migrants, mainly Syrian and Afghan exiles, have nowhere else to go.

“The people are on edge and are looking for the place where they will feel the safest,” said Doctors of the World spokeswoman Cecile Bossy.

Illegal camps have sprung up in the Calais area since French authorities closed down the nearby Sangatte immigrant detention centre in 2002.

Immigration and borders featured prominently in campaigning in the recent European Parliament elections, which saw far-right anti-immigration candidates scoring historic victories in France.

Elsewhere, in the Spanish enclave of Melilla in Morocco, over 1,000 sub-Saharan African migrants charged a barbed-wire border fence, with many managing to get across.

However, dozens of others were beaten back by Moroccan and Spanish police.

During the pre-dawn border storming, cries of pain and noises of people being beaten could be heard as police from both sides of the border.

Those who made it dashed through the streets of Melilla to an official holding centre where they were greeted by cheering migrants who have been detained since previous crossings.

About 500 people managed to enter, bringing the total to some 2,400. The holding centre only caters for some 450 people and military tents have been erected to cater for the influx in recent months.


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