Paris told to im­prove refugees’ liv­ing con­di­tions

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

PARIS: France’s high­est ad­min­is­tra­tive court yes­ter­day ruled Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron’s gov­ern­ment and the Calais re­gion must pro­vide hun­dreds of refugees with drink­ing wa­ter, show­ers and toi­lets.

Char­i­ties and the na­tional hu­man rights watch­dog have been crit­i­cal of the squalid con­di­tions fac­ing hun­dreds of refugees who have con­verged again on the north­ern port city af­ter gov­ern­ment bull­doz­ers razed a camp known as the “Jun­gle”.

A lo­cal court said this year that the au­thor­i­ties must pro­vide ac­cess to wa­ter, prompt­ing an ap­peal by the in­te­rior min­istry and Calais com­mune. Re­ject­ing that ap­peal, the Con­seil d’Etat ruled the treat­ment of refugees was in­hu­man.

“The Con­seil d’Etat con­sid­ers that th­ese liv­ing con­di­tions re­veal a fail­ure by the pub­lic au­thor­i­ties that has ex­posed th­ese peo­ple to in­hu­man or de­grad­ing treat­ment,” the court said. “Th­ese short­com­ings are a se­ri­ous and un­law­ful in­fringe­ment on a fun­da­men­tal free­dom.”

It said the lower court was within its rights to or­der the pro­vi­sion of toi­lets, drink­ing wa­ter and show­ers.

France has avoided the brunt of Europe’s refugee cri­sis, re­ceiv­ing a frac­tion of the asy­lum seek­ers han­dled by coun­tries like Italy and Ger­many.

While Macron has called for refugees to be treated with dig­nity, his own gov­ern­ment has taken a tough stance, re­fus­ing to open a new refugee re­cep­tion cen­tre in Calais, say­ing it would act as a mag­net for other refugees.

Last week, Hu­man Rights Watch pressed France to end what it de­scribed as re­cur­rent po­lice vi­o­lence against refugees in Calais, where hun­dreds have re­turned de­spite the de­mo­li­tion of a sprawl­ing camp.

Many of the Calais refugees seek a bet­ter life in Bri­tain.

The EU is strug­gling to find a co­her­ent an­swer to a mi­gra­tion cri­sis that has tested co-op­er­a­tion be­tween mem­ber states. Macron has in­structed his gov­ern­ment to speed up France’s asy­lum process.

Smoke rises as refugees and jour­nal­ists look at burn­ing makeshift shel­ters and tents in the ‘Jun­gle’ on the third day of the evac­u­a­tion of refugees and their trans­fer to re­cep­tion cen­tres in France, as part of the dis­man­tling of the camp in Calais last year.

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