On Tuesday, French police began dismantling a large camp with over a thousand migrants in Grande-Synthe, a coastal commune next to Dunkirk and near the Belgian border, according to Belga News Agency.
“On my order, the security forces evacuated the illegal refugee camp in Grande-Synthe this morning,” French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on Twitter.
Darmanin said the dismantling of the refugee camp was part of an operation targeted at a human-trafficking ring that is active at the location. In the process, 13 people smugglers were arrested.
Ce matin, le démantèlement d'un réseau de passeurs sur le dunkerquois a permis l’interpellation de 13 trafiquants de migrants, ce qui porte le total à 1308 depuis janvier. Ces passeurs sont des criminels qui exploitent la misère humaine, responsables de l’immigration irrégulière.
— Gérald DARMANIN (@GDarmanin) November 16, 2021
Translation: This morning, the dismantling of a network of smugglers in the Dunkirk area led to the arrest of 13 smugglers, bringing the total to 1308 since January. These smugglers are criminals who exploit human misery and are responsible for illegal immigration.
According to Grande-Synthe’s mayor Martial Beyaert, nearly 1,500 people, mostly Kurds, live in the now-dismantled camp, which is located on a former industrial site.
“We have to find a solution for these people, especially since it will soon be winter,” said Beyaert.
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For years, migrants have been arriving on the coast of the northern region of Hauts-de-France, in towns such as Calais or Grande-Synthe, in the hope of travelling from there to the UK.
Human rights organisations have criticised EU migration policy, saying that it leads to high levels of illegal and dangerous migration, which in many cases results in the deaths of migrants.
According to the UK, 22,000 migrants have already managed to reach England in small boats since the beginning of this year.