Calais rejects court order for better refugee facilities, fears new ‘Jungle’– deputy mayor to RT
On Monday, France’s highest court, Conseil d'Etat, ruled that the government must offer improved facilities for refugees in the city of Calais. The court upheld the decision made by another in Lille last month, ordering officials to set up drinking fountains, toilets and showers for migrants.
It's estimated that there are currently around 400-600 migrants in the area. On Monday the court said the refugees are living in “a state of deprivation and exhaustion” and are subjected to “inhuman and degrading treatments” unacceptable in a democracy.
Calais authorities now face a fine of €100 per day if they fail to comply with the ruling. Recalling the painful experience of the infamous so-called ‘Jungle’ camp which was bulldozed last October amid heavy clashes with police, Calais deputy mayor Philippe Mignonet told RT the town tried everything in the past to help the thousands who arrived at their door. But without a grand plan, he said, all their attempts have been futile.
'Humanitarian slum': 'Second Calais' grows in north-eastern France https://t.co/yLYYGnagCA— RT (@RT_com) 30 July 2017
“A new jungle could emerge anytime if we are not careful,” Mignonet warned. “We refuse anyway what the court is saying. The mayor of Calais has already [provided] everything – showers, toilets, [a] camp. And we see all the time it’s a disaster.”
“We do not have to suffer because of [a] kind of lack of courage in Europe that seems to be ignoring this situation,” Mignonet added.
Calais deputy mayor’s statement echoes the remarks of the mayor, Natacha Bouchart, who on Monday made very clear that she will not obey the ruling.
“In the absence of a national and European policy offering a global solution on controlling immigration, Calais will not implement the injunctions,” she defiantly declared, according to AFP, while warning of the dangers of “yet another Jungle.”
“I cannot agree to set up facilities that would bring together the conditions for the creation of settlements, slums,”added the mayor, arguing that she is doing it to “protect the Calaisian population.”
“If those camps will not be in the Calais area, less migrants will attempt to come,” Mignonet added. “If something is built in Calais or in the Calais area, for sure, we will have more migrants. No way for us to accept it again.”
It is believed that France has spent roughly €210 million on Calais' 'Jungle' between 2014-16. Yet despite the hefty sum spent, local authorities found it impossible to control the migrants’ behavior and the social rift caused by the refugee presence. Poor living conditions at the Calais camp before its demolition have been widely reported by RT and noted by several humanitarian agencies.
Noting Calais’ defiance to implement the Conseil d'Etat's ruling, Interior Minister Gerard Collomb announced that Paris will facilitate plans to open two new shelters in Bailleul and Troisvaux, about 85 km from Calais.
Bouchart welcomed the planned opening of the two migrants centers saying it would be “favorable for Calais” and would allow migrants to be accommodated in better “humanitarian conditions.”
On 23 June, French President, Emmanuel Macron stressed the need to care for migrants, stating that “the reception of refugees is our tradition and honor.” At the end of last month, he also noted that “the first battle is to accommodate all the world's [refugees] with dignity” adding that no-one should be living in the streets by the end of the year.
Yet despite Macron’s comments to create a much more welcoming environment for refugees, the latest Human Rights Watch (HRW) report noted numerous abuses by the local government against the migrants in Calais.
“This report documents police abuse of asylum seekers and migrants, their disruption of humanitarian assistance, and their harassment of aid workers – behavior that appears to be at least partly driven by a desire to keep down migrant numbers,” HRW said.