As a hazy dawn broke over Europe’s biggest migrant camp yesterday, the British anarchists who encouraged residents to lob stones and flaming logs at riot police had disappeared.
The bonfires which had lit up the Calais night sky had died down. But the atmosphere was still poisonous.
Scuffles continued to break out among angry migrants, squabbling among themselves as they queued for coaches waiting to remove them from the squalid Jungle camp to new living quarters dotted about France.
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French police search a van near the Jungle camp amid concerns that British anarchists are infiltrating the camp
The most disgruntled refused to get on the coaches at all.
Hundreds simply walked out to the town’s bus stop to travel along the Channel coast to Dunkirk, where yesterday I saw a second camp already breaking at the seams with 1,000 Afghans, Iranians, and Iraqis waiting to get to Britain.
But if the whiff of tear gas used to quell the riots has evaporated as the Jungle is cleared of its 10,000 inhabitants during the French government’s three-day operation, the migrants’ dreams of reaching the UK have not.
Because what is perfectly clear is the utter futility of this latest push: When I talked to dozens of migrants about their plans they mentioned ‘Dunkirk’.
And no one is more pleased about that than the Left-wing ‘No Borders’ activists, who were thrown out of the Jungle on Sunday night by police, but still hope to block the evictions.
Last night scores had set up home in squats throughout Calais, according to the French government, and, in middle-class accents in the ferry port’s pubs, were plotting how to fight on.
This image was on No Borders' Facebook page
‘It is now our job to keep these anarchists out of the Jungle and away from the migrants who they stir up into hatred against all forms of authority,’ a riot police officer outside the Jungle told me yesterday.
‘Most come from your country and are only here to cause trouble,’ he said.
In a slick operation — to which the UK will contribute up to £36million, it emerged last night — the French have drafted 1,200 riot-control officers into Calais to throw a ring of steel around the camp during the clearances and the destruction of its cafes and shops. The hope is that if the Jungle goes, the migrants will go too.
Yet as another officer told me: ‘The migrants may leave today, but we are worried they will come back and set up new camps nearby. This is the place they know and from where they think it is easy to be smuggled by lorry into the UK.’
And a British passport official echoed the same fears as I entered France by train on Sunday night. The Jungle, he said, ‘will just spring up elsewhere near Calais, whatever the French try to do to stop it, because the migrants only want to reach Britain’.
Whatever the accuracy of this, when I went to the Jungle yesterday I did meet those who are determined never to claim asylum elsewhere in France.
Migrants sit by a fire last night as they wait to be evicted from the Jungle
I also spoke to bewildered youngsters, claiming to be 17 and looking it, who had no idea they were about to be removed.
When I told them that coaches were waiting for them, they implored me to take them to the UK immediately. ‘It is the only place. I support Arsenal,’ said Merhawi Bekit, a Christian boy from Eritrea.
His friend Abiel Habtom said he had a brother in London who made it there from the Jungle in a lorry a year or two ago.
Merhawi showed me the dismal hut he shares with five others, which has mud on the floor, wet shoes piled drying on the roof, and a prayer for their safety pinned to the door.
I had been guided into the camp along a back path by Merhawi and Abiel after bumping into them at a medical centre. I thought to myself that this was no place for any human being to be living. Yet, for many it has become home.
Half an hour later, I watched on the Calais streets as a stream of migrants stalked out of the Jungle and away from the waiting coaches.
‘We do not want to be sent away from the Jungle,’ 19-year-old Abdullah said, as he crossed the road towards the bus stop with his friend, aged 18.
‘There’s no way we want asylum in France. We do not speak French. We have some English so we hope to get through to the UK. Our first stop will be Dunkirk.’
At the overcrowded bus stop I found a family of four Iranians also hoping to get to the Dunkirk camp, some 20 miles up the coast.
Set in a suburb of the town, the camp was set up by the local mayor and charity Doctors Without Borders, a move condemned by the French government for encouraging more migrants to the coast.
‘We have been living in a tiny hut in the Jungle, but it is home. We want to stay nearby so we can get to England,’ said the father of the family, Li.
Clutching the hand of his wife, Sria, and keeping his daughter, Sava, and son, Sam, away from the heavy traffic, he explained: ‘When we heard about the Dunkirk camp we thought: “That’s it.” We all ran away from the French coaches.’
The French are trying to break the cycle that sees migrants head north to rich parts of Europe, particularly France, and then the UK.
Yesterday Didier Leschi, head of the French immigration office, said: ‘We have yet to convince some people to accept our hospitality and give up their dream of Britain. That’s the hardest part.’
The truth is those dreams are stoked by activists. Just ten days ago, in south-east London, British members of No Borders met in secrecy as they planned last weekend’s infiltration of the Jungle.
One activist, calling herself ‘River’, said: ‘Lots of us will be going down to Calais to block the evictions.’ She said that there would, very likely, be ‘fighting with the police’.
Leaflets showing a picture of masked activists smashing up a police van were handed out.
A banner bearing the slogan ‘From Lesbos to London’ hung on a wall, Lesbos being the Greek island to which thousands of migrants in the Jungle will have sailed from Africa.
Recently, a senior official in the Calais region, Fabienne Buccio, said 80 per cent of the No Borders protesters in the Jungle are British, accusing them of ‘manipulating and misleading’ a ‘hard core’ of migrants to be troublemakers.
River and her devotees might not have personally played any part in the weekend’s violence.
But as No Borders’ anarchists wait in the wings in Calais and migrants seem reluctant to leave, the French could have a hard job on their hands. This may not be the end of the Jungle camp, but only another chapter in its notorious history.