Immigrants due to be evicted from the notorious “Jungle” shanty town in Calais are setting up alternative camps, the port’s mayor has admitted. Natacha Bouchart, a member of France’s ruling UMP Party, said: “Hundreds of migrants have already disappeared from the Jungle, but we’re aware of a multiplication of squats in the centre of town.”

The Jungle, an area of wasteland full of improvised shelters, kitchens and even a mosque close to the town’s ferry port, currently houses around 800 men and women who want to claim asylum in Britain or disappear into the black economy. They play a nightly game of cat and mouse with the police as they try to board lorries and trains heading for Dover.

The French government announced last week that the Jungle would be razed to the ground by this coming Friday at the latest as the fist step in a bid to make Calais “watertight” to the 2,000 odd migrants currently in the area who want to get to Britain. Police sources in the town have confirmed that CRS riot control officers, supported by soldiers, would move in to the camp, the largest of many, with batons and flame throwers on Tuesday – the day after Ramadan ends. “Many of those in the camp are Muslims from countries like Afghanistan and Iraq who want to get to Britain,” said one senior officer. “We don’t want to offend them by approaching the camp during Ramadan.”

But the local authorities admitted that the announced closure of the camp would simply move the problem to a different area. William Spindler, spokesman for the Calais office of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, said: “The migrants who feel terrorised have fled The Jungle to avoid being arrested.” Catholic abbot Jean-Pierre Boutoille, of the immigrant charity C-Sur, added: “All the government is doing is displacing the problem.”

More than 50 migrants were arrested close to the Jungle on Thursday alone, just a few hours after French immigration minister Eric Besson announced the destruction of The Jungle on national television. The clearance is expected to take four days, with the site eventually being cordoned off by barbed wire

It came as Europe’s Justice Commissioner prepared to demand a change in the law to allow asylum seekers into the UK more quickly. Jacques Barrot, a former French minister, believes the reform will assist all the migrants who are currently sleeping rough around Calais. He said he particularly wants to see a “significant number” of those evicted from The Jungle moving to Britain.

Under current law they are supposed to be returned to the country where they first entered the EU, which in the case of Afghan and Iraqi migrants is usually Greece or Italy. But, referring to a proposal which would allow foreigners to claim asylum in any EU country they want, Mr Barrot said: “I’ve had a lot of difficulties getting this law passed and this problem comes from the fact that the United Kingdom and other countries have not understood that there should be a solidarity within the EU over asylum. “In order for the closure of the Jungle in Calais to make sense, it is neccessary to share the burden between France and Great Britain, at least when it comes to asylum seekers. “National solutions to the problem are not viable. The people in Calais have crossed Europe and have one obsession – to get to Great Britain.”

Mr Barrot’s controversial proposal will be discussed by European interior ministers at a meeting in Brussels held to discuss immigration and asylum issues. It follows a call by the United Nations for Britain to accept some migrants from the Jungle when it is burnt to the ground this week. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said the British government should be prepared to allow migrants with large families already in the UK to enter the country.

The fact that illegal migrants can only claim asylum in the first EU country they come to has offered huge protection to the UK as it tries to stem the tide of those drawn by generous welfare benefits and jobs in the black economy. But with both the European Commission and United Nations calling for a change in the law, thousands could soon be allowed to make straight for the UK.

Mr Barrot, Brussels commissioner for freedom, security and justice, is a member of French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s ruling UMP party. He made his comments about Britain’s asylum system to French journalists in Calais prior to Monday’s meeting.

Any further influx of asylum seekers under his plan would come at a time when asylum applications to the UK are already rising. Recent Home Office figures show that a total of 25,930 asylum applications to come to Britain – excluding dependents – were made last year, compared with 23,430 in 2007. Around one in seven claimants is granted the right to stay.

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