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French police tear down refugee camp near port of Dunkirk

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Refugees gather as French police officers dismantle their makeshift camp at Loon Beach near Dunkirk, France, on November 31, 2021. (Photo by Reuters)

Armed police have smashed up a refugee camp near the northern French port of Dunkirk.

Media reports said the camp, which was destroyed on Tuesday morning, housed hundreds of men, women, and children.

An unnamed security services source said armed officers entered the camp before workers in protective suits pulled down tents and plastic shelters.

"Our orders are to evacuate the camp and then to destroy it completely," the source said. "A very large number of tents and bivouacs have appeared, and they have been used by migrants who are launching small boats on the beach nearby."

French police routinely tear up the camps that spring up between Calais and Dunkirk. Police destroyed a similar camp last week.

The UK and France last Wednesday blamed each other for the deaths of more than two dozen migrants who drowned while trying to cross the English Channel in an inflatable dinghy to reach Britain. They had reportedly stayed in the same area before they attempted the perilous sea journey.

Calais Mayor Natacha Bouchart on Thursday explicitly blamed the UK for the failure, saying it should change its immigration policies. UK authorities hit back, with one lawmaker slamming France for turning the tragedy into "another blame game."

The developments come as the United Kingdom and France have been involved in a bitter fishing row. Their relations have also been strained since a security pact was disclosed among the US, the UK, and Australia in September.

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