France to offer shelter to migrants expelled from Calais, emissary says | News | DW

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Migrants expelled from makeshift camps in the French city of Calais will be offered a place to take shelter rather than roaming the streets, French immigration bureau chief Didier Leschi said on Tuesday.

“We will systematically offer accommodation (to migrants),” the envoy told AFP news agency.

French authorities regularly demolish migrant tents in the northern port city, where hundreds of people camp under bridges or in the forest awaiting a chance to cross the Channel to Britain.

Often they receive little warning and are forced to leave with no place to find shelter.

“No more surprise evictions”

Leschi told AFP that migrants would now be offered another place to stay, not in Calais but elsewhere in northern Hauts-de-France.

He also said there would be “no more surprise deportations” and that migrants would have more time – “around 45 minutes” – to collect their belongings.

The announcement came amid a hunger strike by an elderly Calais priest over how homeless foreigners are being treated in the city.

Prevent another “Jungle”

Calais was once home to a slum known as the “Jungle”. Up to 10,000 migrants lived there before police demolished it in 2016.

The French government is keen to prevent another sprawling camp from appearing in its place.

According to humanitarian groups, around 2,000 people, including at least 300 unaccompanied children, were staying in and around the camps in Calais and the surrounding area in mid-2021.

HRW: French police guilty of “abusive practices”

In a report released last month, Human Rights Watch accused French police of mistreating migrants by demolishing their tents, forcing them to roam the streets and confiscating their property.

“The authorities carry out these abusive practices with the main aim of forcing people to move elsewhere, without resolving their migration status or lack of housing, or to deter new arrivals,” he said in the report.

Pointe in the Channel crossings

Migrants from the Middle East, Asia and Africa have long used the north of France as a starting point to reach Great Britain, either by packing up in trucks or in small boats organized by human traffickers.

Authorities say migrant camps should be cleaned up as they are a haven for smugglers who charge exorbitant prices for their services.

According to French Coast Guard statistics, a total of 15,400 people attempted to cross the Channel in the first eight months of this year, a 50% increase over 2020 as a whole.

nm / jsi (AFP, LUSA, AP)

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