Calais living conditions now 'far worse' for refugees

Authorities keen to make French port city migrant-free after 'Jungle' closure are hostile to refugees, charity claims.

    Since the UK halted the transfer of minors last year, some have been returning to Calais [Ben Palmer/Care4Calais]
    Since the UK halted the transfer of minors last year, some have been returning to Calais [Ben Palmer/Care4Calais]

    The clearance six months ago of the so-called Jungle camp in Calais has not stopped refugees from gathering there, the charity Care4Calais warned on Thursday.

    About 400 refugees live in three small camps in the French port city, in far worse conditions than the Jungle, the report said.

    "Living rough on the streets means no access to sanitation at all, with scabies, fungal infections and gum infections at an all time high," the organisation said.

    Migrants wait in line at the so-called Jungle camp [Etienne Laurent/EPA/File]

    Since the UK halted the transfer of minors last year, some have been returning to Calais with about 150 in the city labelled as unaccompanied children.

    There are an estimated 2,000 unaccompanied minors scattered around France.

    "Many vulnerable people have been abandoned and are urgently at risk, as highlighted here in Calais," said Sue Jex, head of Care4Calais' UK operations.

    "The current approach of sweeping it [the refugee crisis] under the carpet represents the unacceptable prioritisation of short-term politics over people's lives."

    READ MORE: One day in Calais: The refugees hiding in the forest

    Calais has been a magnet for refugees trying to reach Britain for more than a decade. From there, refugees try to break into trucks heading to Britain.

    French authorities are determined to demonstrate that Calais is now a migrant-free zone, which has led to an increasingly hostile environment for refugees.

    Police focus on arrests and detention to discourage refugee presence on the streets.

    "Those living in these camps are in daily fear of the authorities, with police visits taking place on a regular basis that often include confiscation of the refugees' sleeping bags and other possessions," the report said.

    Banning food aid

    The Mayor of Calais banned food distributions in a large area of Calais in early March, saying that they spurred ethnic tensions and conflict between rival groups of refugees.

    The ban was later overturned by a court at the joint request of associations working with migrants.

    Care4Calais said that French police continue to disrupt food distribution "through ongoing intimidation and arrests while it takes place".

    Last summer, the French interior minister strengthened legal processes enabling deportation under the Dublin regulation, which states that asylum seekers must apply for asylum in the first EU country they enter.

    Since then transfers have increased, with 17,529 Dublin certificates issues during the first 11 months of 2016, according to statistics provided by the interior ministry.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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