icon bookmark-bicon bookmarkicon cameraicon checkicon chevron downicon chevron lefticon chevron righticon chevron upicon closeicon v-compressicon downloadicon editicon v-expandicon fbicon fileicon filtericon flag ruicon full chevron downicon full chevron lefticon full chevron righticon full chevron upicon gpicon insicon mailicon moveicon-musicicon mutedicon nomutedicon okicon v-pauseicon v-playicon searchicon shareicon sign inicon sign upicon stepbackicon stepforicon swipe downicon tagicon tagsicon tgicon trashicon twicon vkicon yticon wticon fm
14 Feb, 2016 05:01

‘Calais is doomed’: Local resident tells RT about the life disrupted by refugee crisis

A resident of the French of Calais has told RT how life has changed for its residents since the port city has become the frontline of the current refugee crisis.

READ MORE: ‘Masked gang’ of 7 men arrested near Calais for attacking Iraqi refugees with iron bars

“The atmosphere is sad, it is oppressive. There is no more entertainment, nothing. People are afraid. They stay at home,” Simone Héricourt said, adding that Calais has ceased to be a tourist attraction because of the mass influx of asylum seekers.

“Tourists stay away from Calais. There is nothing left. Many shops have closed down,” lamented Héricourt.

She also pointed out the inability of police to tackle the threat posed by the migrants.

“Police refused to confront them. And I find it unacceptable. Their job is to protect civilians. They get hit by bricks, by iron bars. How many riot police officers were injured since riots like this take place in Calais?” she added, accusing the Calais authorities of surrendering the city to the chaos.

READ MORE: French police union files complaint against Calais after RT video of general’s arrest

“The authorities have doomed Calais, they will leave migrants here and they will leave us to deal with them,” she concluded, saying that the French authorities would never send the army into the city, as they have already abandoned it.

Héricourt has risen to fame since footage of her speaking at the “Save Our Country” conference outside Paris on February 7 went viral.

Recalling her life as a Calais native, she appeared to be nostalgic about the times when city dwellers lived in “peace and security,” saying that the arrival of migrants had completely overturned the old familiar way of life.

“They come to the town center, they vandalize cars with iron bars, they attack people, including children. There are rapes and thefts. It is unimaginable,” she complained, confessing that her son had also been assaulted by three migrants right in the city center.

The migrant camp near the French city of Calais, nicknamed the “Jungle,” serves as a temporary home for an estimated 4,000 asylum seekers – mostly from North Africa, the Middle East, and Afghanistan – who have failed to reach the UK across the Channel.  It is the largest makeshift camp in Europe and has gradually turned into a small town with its own social life.

“It became a city within a city. They have discos, shops, schools, hairdressers. The police can’t even enter the Muslim part,” said Héricourt.

Marianne Humbersot, Head of Legal center at Calais Camp, told RT that the residents of the improvised city often become victims of police abuse.

READ MORE: ‘Treated like animals’: Children brutalized in Calais ‘Jungle’ (VIDEO)

“I have a 13-year old one, he has his foot broken. And 10 days before this aggression by police he had his nose broken by racists. 13 year old, isolated, unaccompanied here. It is really, really serious,” she told RT.

French authorities are seeking to reduce the size of the Calais camp in an attempt to bring order to the unmanageable border territory.  In January they demolished hundreds of homes falling within a 100-meter band surrounding the perimeter of the camp.

In February, a church and a mosque were reportedly destroyed by the government without any previous notice, despite the government’s pledge not to damage places of worship.

READ MORE: 1 hour to get out: France bulldozes Calais ‘Jungle’ mosque, church & school

On Friday, the government announced plans to evict about 1,000 migrants from the camp, as another of its sections is to be demolished.

“The time has come to move on, no-one must live in the southern part of the camp, everyone must leave this section,” said government representative Fabienne Buccio.

READ MORE: Demolishing Calais ‘Jungle’ camp breaches human right to a home – petition