Bulldozers moved in to the "jungle" refugee camp in Calais this morning to demolish the mosque, St Michael's Church and other nearby structures.
St Michael's, a small makeshift chapel serving mainly Orthodox Ethiopian Christians among the migrants, was among several parts of the camp that were bulldozed. It became briefly controversial last year when the BBC filmed part of its religious flagship Songs of Praise programme from the camp.
"Sad to report that the Church has now been demolished despite the Prefecture promises to not touch places of worship. There was just time for a last minute prayer before the machinery tore in. One of the church members stood by in dignified silence, clutching the remaining cross from the Church roof," the charity reported.
And despite promises to the contrary, at around 9am the Calais Prefecture also bulldozed the mosque which was in the newly created "buffer zone". Previously they had agreed the mosque, church and school would not be affected during operations to clear a safe space between the camp and the public roads.
Devastated residents watched the destruction, said Help Refugees. The mosque held daily services with as many as 300 attending. "The bulldozers are currently tearing down the Church, while residents scramble to rescue what they can from the building," observers said in the Facebook commentary.
The charity also helped dismantle and move shelters that were in the path of the area being cleared.
Help Refugees also tweeted the final prayer as the little church disappeared for good.
Residents in Calais camp pray in what is left of their church after unannounced bulldozers moved on this morning pic.twitter.com/WQEMNiVmlE— HelpRefugeesUK (@HelpRefugeesUK) February 1, 2016