French police on Tuesday dismantled a migrant camp in the northern port of Calais, from where thousands of illegal economic migrants and would-be asylum seekers have sought to cross the English Channel to reach British shores.

A police source said the operation began shortly before sunrise. The makeshift camp was home to about 700 migrants, the source added. It was not clear whether the migrants have simply dispersed or been taken to other centres by bus.

Several thousand migrants have attempted the crossing this year, often paying people traffickers to help them traverse one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes in overloaded rubber dinghies.

Britain has repeatedly pressed the French authorities to do more to prevent the undocumented migrants leaving France, although it is doubtful that France has any legal obligation to do so.

France says it has stepped up patrols. Most of the migrants are from Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Syria and countries in Africa.

With Reuters

FILE PHOTO: Migrants confront French police officers as police dismantle a makeshift shelter camp in Calais, France July 10, 2020. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol/File Photo