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France to expel Afghan migrants in days

France will expel a group of Afghans in the coming days, three months after it shut down a migrant squatter camp near the English Channel, a presidential official said on Tuesday.

world Updated: Dec 15, 2009 15:49 IST

France will expel a group of Afghans in the coming days, three months after it shut down a migrant squatter camp near the English Channel, a presidential official said on Tuesday.

Presidential chief of staff Claude Gueant told RTL radio "there will no doubt be expulsions of Afghans in the coming days by charter flight."

The refugees' aid group Cimade said in a statement at the weekend that police had told migrants in the northern town of Calais they would be flown to Afghanistan by charter on Tuesday.

Cimade said at least 11 Afghans would be sent back and called on the government to reverse the decision. Gueant on Tuesday declined to confirm the exact date and defended the policy of sending migrants back to Afghanistan, where western forces are battling the Taliban.

"The United Kingdom sends back more than a thousand Afghans to their country every year, with the agreement of the European human rights commission," he said. "I don't see why France should not do so too."

It will be the latest in a series of expulsions of Afghans since the closing in September of the so-called "jungle," a migrant camp in Calais, where many migrants and refugees assemble, hoping to cross the Channel to Britain.

In October three Afghans from France and 24 from Britain were repatriated to their war-torn country, drawing protests from the left-wing opposition and humanitarian groups.