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France to Shut Down Paris Migrant Camp

FILE - French President Francois Hollande leaves the Elysee Palace in Paris, July 15, 2016.

French President Francois Hollande said Saturday that he would close a migrant camp in Paris, after his government emptied the camp known as "the jungle" near Calais earlier in the week.

The makeshift camp near the port city of Calais, where migrants awaiting resettlement elsewhere lived in dire conditions, became a high-profile symbol of Europe's worst refugee crisis since World War II.

"We cannot tolerate camps," Hollande said, calling the street encampments "not worthy" of France. "We will evacuate the camps in Paris, because it cannot be a long-lasting solution" for migrant refugees who escape war and poverty in their countries of origin.

"France also has, regarding Europe, a responsibility, which is to ensure the control of external borders, because we cannot let in migrants who do not have the right to stake their claims," he said. "However, we must take in refugees who are victims of persecution in their own countries, and we know them — Syrians, Iraqis, Afghans, Sudanese. ... That is part of our duty, and we must do it under conditions which are worthy of France."

Hollande urged Britain to take in 1,500 unaccompanied minors from "the jungle" as officials stepped up efforts to demolish the almost-deserted Calais camp.

The president said he had spoken with British Prime Minister Theresa May to ensure that British officials would "play their part" in welcoming them to Britain.

Hollande said 5,000 migrants had been evacuated from the Calais camp in the past week and transferred to 450 reception centers around France.

Anti-immigrant sentiment in Britain and France has complicated efforts to address the long-running Calais migrant drama.