After the administrative court in Lille rejected a request to suspend the ban on food distribution in the city centre of Calais, 13 civil society organisations filed an appeal with the Council of State on 23 September. French police dismantled a makeshift camp in Calais and evicted 800 people on 29 September.
The rejection by the administrative court to suspend the ban on food distribution in the city centre of Calais issued by the prefect of Pas-de-Calais on 10 September was met with protests and denounced by 70 civil society organisations. Thirteen NGOs have now filed an appeal with Council of State to challenge the prefectural decree, officially put into place to maintain public order and ensure social distancing during the COVID pandemic.
The NGOs object to the position of the administrative court that the state provided food and water distributed outside the city centre is sufficient to cover all needs, arguing that humanitarian indicators developed by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) state that drinking water must be available within a distance of 500 meters. The current distance for people sleeping rough in the centre of Calais have to cover is up to 5 kilometres.
In the largest operation since the evictions from the ‘jungle’, French police have dismantled a makeshift camp in Calais. Around 800 people residing in the camp reportedly had their tents and sleeping bags confiscated and will be moved to northern France, and other regions of the country. According to a government official for the northern Pas-de-Calais department, authorities: “want to avoid a concentration and a new gathering point in Calais”. A Syrian national told the Guardian: “It is like the authorities think we are animals and they are taking us from one farm to another.”
Prior to the dismantling of the makeshift camp on 29 September between 1,000 and 1,200 people remained around the port of Calais many from refugee producing countries like Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan and Eritrea awaiting opportunities to cross the channel to the UK. More than 1,880 people have crossed the Channel between 1 and 24 of September 2020 – roughly the same number believed to have crossed in the whole of 2019.
For further information:
- ECRE, France: Brutal Evictions Followed by Brutal Demands, July 2020
- AIDA, Country Report: France, update 2019, April 2020
- ECRE, Protect the most vulnerable to ensure protection for everyone!, March 2020
- ECRE, France: NGOs Urged Sanitary Measure to Protect Those Stuck in Calais and Grand-Synthe, March 2020
- ECRE, France: Another Round of Evacuations – Still Shortage of Sustainable Solutions, December 2019
- ECRE, France: Police Evicts Hundreds from Camp in Grande-Synthe, September 2019
- ECRE, The French Council of State Orders Sanitary Measures for Migrants in Grande-Synthe, June 2019
- ECRE, Op-Ed: The Child Refugee and the ‘Jungle’ Camps of Calais, September 2018
Photo: Radek Homola on Unsplash