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French police clear out camps of Syrian, African migrants in English Channel port city

Police officers stand while French authorities start to clear out makeshift camps in the English Channel port city of Calais housing hundreds of illegal migrants from Syria, Afghanistan and Africa, Wednesday, May 28, 2014. French media reports say that Calais authorities wanted the camps cleared out because of a scabies epidemic. (AP Photo/Thibault Vandermersch)

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Police officers stand while French authorities start to clear out makeshift camps in the English Channel port city of Calais housing hundreds of illegal migrants from Syria, Afghanistan and Africa, Wednesday, May 28, 2014. French media reports say that Calais authorities wanted the camps cleared out because of a scabies epidemic. (AP Photo/Thibault Vandermersch)

PARIS - French police raided makeshift camps in the English Channel port of Calais on Wednesday, clearing out ramshackle shelters that housed hundreds of illegal migrants from Syria, Afghanistan and Africa.

Dozens of migrants and activists gathered near one of the camps, some angrily trying to prevent police from evacuating it. There were no immediate reports of arrests.

Police officers checked in tents and under tarps for migrants before sealing off the camps early Wednesday morning. The camps, which have been infested with scabies, included dozens of tents covered with tarps and damp blankets.

Calais is a magnet for migrants from war zones and deeply poor countries who are trying to reach Britain, just across the English Channel. The three camps evacuated Wednesday housed up to 500 people, according to local estimates.

Officials at Calais police headquarters and city hall could not be reached for comment Wednesday morning.

"The situation in Calais is deteriorating to a deafening silence," aid groups wrote an open letter to the French prime minister on Tuesday.

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