Calais 'jungle' eviction decision delayed by French courtTuesday 23 February 2016 17.37
A French court has said it was delaying its ruling on the demolition of half of the 'jungle' refugee camp in Calais, just hours before a deadline for residents to be evacuated.
"We will not know today," said a source in the court in the northern city of Lille, adding that a decision was not now expected until tomorrow or Thursday.
A French judge visited the makeshift 'jungle' refugee camp today, after an eviction order was put on hold because of the risk to lone children.
Judge Valerie Quemener was mobbed by journalists and migrants as she made her way around the site.
A census by the charity 'Help Refugees' found more than 400 children living at the camp - 300 of them without their parents.
It also found the number of refugees living at the encampment was three times the official estimate.
Under pressure to reduce the migrant presence, local authorities said last week that up to 1,000 people out of an estimated total population of 4,000 would have to leave the southern part of the camp within a week.
The authorities say there is enough space to accommodate those displaced in a "temporary welcome centre" in a series of repurposed shipping containers, or elsewhere in the region and across the country.
But activists say the official figures underestimate the numbers who will be affected.
A tribunal in Lille is considering claims that closing part of the camp would constitute "a violation of fundamental human rights".
Maya Konforti has worked for the NGO L'Auberge des Migrants since the camp's inception and she said the media scrum and migrant interest had meant the judge failed to get a true sense of the camp.
"I would have liked it to be much calmer and she hasn't seen everything. But I would like her to come out now and see the people here, there are clearly not 800 to 1,000 refugees here, there's a huge crowd marching in the street," Ms Konforti said.
Many of the migrants fear the move saying say that a sense of community has developed in the camp with impromptu shops and services.