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Court shames France into action in Calais

AFP/The Local · 3 Nov 2015, 08:20

Published: 03 Nov 2015 08:20 GMT+01:00

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The court in Lille in northern France ordered the department of Pas-de-Calais and the town of Calais to install 10 more water stations -- with five taps each, 50 latrines and "one or several" more access points to emergency services at the overflowing migrant site where some 6,000 people are now camped out in the cold.

Doctors of the World (Medecins du Monde) and Catholic Relief Services, as well as other NGOs, appealed to the court to "end serious human rights violations" of the migrants living in the camp where the number of inhabitants has nearly doubled since the end of September.

The so-called "New Jungle" camp, which is around an hour away on foot from the centre of the northern French city, has swelled in size over recent months as more and more migrants arrive, wanting to cross over to Britain.

Along with the new sanitation stations, the administrative court ordered the installation of garbage collection sites and general cleaning of the camp, with eight days to implement the new measures and a €100 ($110) fine for each day of delay.

The Pas-de-Calais prefecture must also begin in the next 48 hours to identify unaccompanied minors in distress and to begin the process of their placement.

SEE ALSO: Huge explosion at Calais refugee camp

The prefecture said in a statement that it will implement the measures in the time allotted.

Patrice Spinosi, the lawyer for the NGOs, told AFP that it was "a first victory", but that there was still a lot of work to be done in the camp.

Some of the other requests by the NGOs, like using vacant houses to shelter migrants and upping the meal distribution to twice a day for all 6,000 people versus 2,500 meals once a day, were not approved by the court.

The Doctors of the World director for France, Jean-Francois Corty, called the decision "exceptional" because the court ordered the state to take emergency measures.

But Corty told The Local that the aid groups were prepared to continue their legal action against the state if the government did not immediately follow the court's orders.

"It's a little victory for us, but we will remain vigilant," Corty said. "The judges recognized that the state has failed in their response to the emergency situation at Calais.

"The government has made commitments and they are now obliged to respect them," he said. "We are disappointed about the food situation but we have the option to appeal the court's judgement.

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"Conditions in the camp continue to be untenable and the state continues to react too slowly to the situation," Corty added.

Last month French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve ordered reinforced security and heated tents for women and children in Calais as migrants prepare to face the season's bitter cold.

On Monday work began on a new tented camp for 1,500 people that will be ready to open in January.

Aid groups like Medecins du Monde say it simply won't be enough to cater for the huge numbers of migrants.

AFP/The Local (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

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