• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3
IN PICTURES
France opens its first respectable refugee camp
All photos: AFP

France opens its first respectable refugee camp

The Local/AFP · 7 Mar 2016, 13:00

Published: 07 Mar 2016 13:00 GMT+01:00

If the Jungle refugee camp in Calais was described as the "worst in Europe" the one up the road at the Grande Synthe near Dunkirk, was said to be even worse.

The camp, located in woodland outside the port of Dunkirk, was home to over 1,000 mainly Iraqi-Kurd refugees, who eked out an existence amid the mud and miserable conditions.

Up until now they had to make do with tents or ramshackle huts, much to the anger of international aid groups who lined up to blast the French government for allowing refugees to live in worse conditions from those which they had fled (pics below).

But on Monday the town of Grande-Synthe opened France's first-ever refugee camp to meet international humanitarian standards, despite official opposition from the government.

"It's a great day for human solidarity," said local mayor Damien Careme, who fought a battle with the authorities.

"I've overcome a failure of the state," he said, adding that he could no longer stand the sight of around 75 children living in the original camp.

However the government's local  representative, prefect Jean-Francois Cordet, late Monday raised safety concerns that could halt operations.

Cordet had "ordered the mayor of Grande-Synthe to immediately cancel the municipal bylaw" which authorised the opening of the camp against the advice of the municipal safety commission, he said in a statement.

He ordered Careme to "without delay take measures to ensure the safety of the occupants, especially at night" to limit the risk of fire.

"The safety of people is at stake and one cannot disregard the rules, whatever the humanitarian motives," Cordet said.

Three families of Iraqi Kurds were the first to arrive at the new camp after being moved from the squalid camp nearby.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has so far built a little over 200 of 275 planned cabins at the site to house at least 1,500 people -- many of whom are fleeing the demolition in Calais.

MSF say they eventually hope to house 2,500 refugees in 375 cabins.

The camp also has proper showers and toilets.

According to Le Point news site, it was built at a cost of €3.1 million and will be run by the charity Utopia.56. The town is hoping that the government will agree to foot the bill.

Story continues below…

The move has frustrated the government which has been trying to move refugees away from the northern coast and into centres where their movement is more controlled.

The government's representative in northern France, Jean-Francois Cordet, said last month: "The government's policy is not to reconstitute a camp at Grande-Synthe, but to make it go away."

 

 

The Local/AFP (news.france@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Euro 2016
France survive Irish scare to make quarter-final
Antoine Griezmann scored two second-half goals. Photo: AFP

Antoine Griezmann broke Irish hearts with two second-half goals as France came from behind to claim a 2-1 win over ten-man Republic of Ireland and move into the Euro 2016 quarter-finals on Sunday.

'Transatlantic trade deal not good for EU': French PM
"I can tell you frankly, there cannot be a transatlantic treaty agreement. This agreement is not on track," Valls said. Photo: AFP

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Sunday blasted a planned EU-US trade treaty, saying the ambitious deal was against "EU interests."

Euro 2016
Five things you didn't know about France and Ireland
Photos: AFP

France and Ireland have more than a few interesting connections. Here are our favourite five.

Mixed reaction from the French as UK votes for Brexit
Photo: AFP

The Brexit vote has prompted a mixed bag of reactions from the French public.

Opinion - Brexit seen from abroad
'Today it's hard not to feel ashamed to be British'
Photo: AFP

Apologies France, we may have just messed up your country too.

Brexit
French in UK: 'Brexit vote is clearly against foreigners'
The French Bookshop in London's Kensington. Photo: AFP

Spare a thought for the French people living in the UK right now. They didn't even get to vote.

Hollande: Brexit vote 'a grave test for Europe'
Photo: AFP

President Francois Hollande said on Friday that he already regrets the UK's "painful choice".

Brexit - Property
How Brexit could now scupper that dream move to France
A house of sale in La-Faute-sur-Mer (Vendée). Photo: Frank Perry/AFP

The dream move to France may have to be put on hold or simply dropped.

Brexit
Brexit limbo: What happens next for Brits in France?
Brits won't be forced home, of course, but are forced to live in limbo for a while. Photo: AFP

So what happens now for Brits in France? Nothing too dramatic, but a lot of uncertainty amid legal limbo.

Brexpats on Brexit
Brexit: Life for Brits in France will get more complicated
Will France still be paradise for British expats after a Brexit? Photo: Simon/FlickR

After Britain voted to leave the EU, here's a look at what an EU legal expert had to say about the possible knock on effects for expats in France.

Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
Gallery
Ten reasons why you should think about becoming French
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Analysis & Opinion
Brexit: Life for Brits in France 'will get more complicated'
Culture
20 English words that 'should be banished' from French
National
Best Briehaviour: A guide to French cheese etiquette
Features
And the best city in France for expats to live in is...?
Society
Forget bikes, Paris is set to roll out scooter rentals
National
'We fear for our safety': French police feel the strain
Lifestyle
Why Rennes (and not Paris) is the best city in France for expats to live
National
Why are the French losing appetite for baguettes?
Lifestyle
Naturism booms in France as young eager to ditch clothes
Lifestyle
Is working life better in London or Paris?
National
Dear Americans: Please come to Paris
National
It's official (kind of): French work fewest hours in EU
And the best football fans of Euro 2016 in France are?
National
Paris has wettest spring in 100 years and it's hitting morale
Police murders remind France of complexity of terror threat
National
IN PICTURES: Labour law protests in Paris turn ugly
National
Double murder just latest jihadist attack on French police and soldiers
International
French police appear unprepared for hooligan threat at Euro 2016
Sport
An A to Z guide of what to expect in France for Euro 2016
Sport
France bans matches from being shown on cafe terraces
National
Readers' views: 'If Brexit happens I'm becoming French just to stay in EU'
Technology
Should this be the new Metro map for Paris?
2,728
jobs available