Paris told to improve refugees’ living conditions
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.