Calais Jungle Police Confrontations Could Not Be More Different From Scenes For Refugees In Rome

Refugees Face Police, Tear Gas And Handshakes In Three Very Different Receptions

A day of chaos has seen migrants forcibly removed from the Calais "jungle" camp, hit with tear gas at Greece's border with Macedonia but greeted with warm handshakes in radically different scenes in Rome.

In Calais, migrants set fire to their tents as riot police, moved in to remove them from the part of the camp that is to be demolished.

Lines of police vans gathered on the perimeter of the camp's southern section as migrants and refugees were told their only option now was to move. Tear gas used during the migrants' forced removal.

The scene was between police and migrants was more severe on the Greek/Macedonian border, where migrants had tear gas fired at them by police trying to prevent them breaking through the border and continue heading into Europe.

The refugees and migrants had tried to push their way into Macedonia, breaking down a border gate and ripping open part of the razor-wire barrier near the northern Greek village of Idomeni.

The dramatic scenes made a stark contrast with refugees' reception in Rome today.

Scenes in Macedonia

A hundred Syrians were the first group to arrive legally and safely as part of a "humanitarian corridor", a Catholic initiative aimed at preventing deaths in the Mediterranean.

Families with small children were among those arriving to a warm welcome from Italians, who shook their hands and greeted them.

The Federation of Protestant Churches in Italy and Rome's Catholic Sant'Egidio Community have asked the government for 1,000 humanitarian visas for Syrians displaced by their country's civil war and living in refugee camps in Lebanon.

In Calais, state authorities have said up to 1,000 people, who live in the makeshift camp with the ultimate aim of escaping to Britain, will be affected by the closure of the camp. Aid workers say the figure is likely to be much higher.

Help Refugees said its own analysis revealed there were 3,455 people living in the affected area.

Some refused to leave as authorities began the long-anticipated clearance that campaigners fought in the courts. Police supported agents who began dismantling the makeshift shelters that are home to thousands.

A man standing on a shelter's refuses to leave, as anti-riot policemen support agents dismantle shelters

A judge ordered the demolition go ahead on Friday and after several days of authorities going door to door and asking people to move, police went in on Monday.

Local authority head Fabienne Buccio said around three quarters of the shelters in the camp's southern section after authorities went door to door trying to get people to move.

Lliana Bird, co-founder of Help Refugees, told HuffPost UK: "It has been publicly accepted in court that there are not enough state run places for all the refugees being evicted to go to, so this move will simply be making thousands of vulnerable people homeless.

"With over 3,500 people in the zone to be bulldozed, and just over 1,000 places available in containers and French run centres there are more than 2,500 men, women and children who will soon be facing winter weather without shelter, and with no where to go once their current homes are destroyed.

"The trauma this is causing already vulnerable and displaced people is immeasurable. We ask the French authorities to work with us to find safe and dignified solutions to rehouse the residents of the Calais camp."

Lib Dem leader Tim Farron called the situation a "heart-breaking symptom of the greatest humanitarian crisis of the century".

He said: "Razing half a camp with bulldozers, flanked by riot police is not a solution. Moving people from a tent to a shipping container will have very little impact.

"The families in Calais are people and families from places like Iraq and Syria fleeing war and instability. These people are trying to look for a place of peace where they can make a new life for them and their family, at least until it’s safe enough to return home."

Meanwhile about 6,500 migrants are stuck on the Greek-Macedonian border at Idomeni, waiting to travel north but Macedonia is only admitting a trickle who continue on to central and western Europe.

A battering ram was apparently used to break through the section of fence. It is not clear how many people got through before the police pushed the group back.


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