A court has ordered Calais officials to remove a skip from blocking the entrance to a migrant camp
An administrative judge in Lille ruled that officials had grossly “overstepped their authority” by blocking the entrance to the mini aid centre, which is run by the Catholic charity Secours Catholique.
The judge said: “By preventing access to any part of the land owned by Secours Catholique, the mayor of Calais committed a serious and manifestly unlawful interference in property rights."
The judge added that the ruling had “nothing to do with the refugee crisis” but reflected a “flagrant violation of urban planning laws”.
In November, weeks after the notorious ‘Jungle’ camp was demolished in a last-ditch effort to discourage migrants from congregating in Calais, officials announced that they had adopted a "zero-tolerance" policy against immigrants in a bid to maintain “peace and stability” and that tented settlements would “no longer be tolerated”.
But despite the local government’s thinly-veiled threats, more than 400 migrants – including unaccompanied minors – are said to have returned to the port town less than four months after the camp was reduced to rubble.
They’re starving, exhausted, and some haven’t had a shower in weeks
Lionel Crusoé, the charity’s lawyer
Scores have since turned to Secours Catholique – one of the only pro-immigrant charities left in Calais – for help.
Last week, the charity ordered three shower units to offer migrants a chance to clean up.
Didier Degrémont, president of Secours Catholique, said: “We just wanted to offer migrants who have been living rough on the streets for weeks a hot shower.”
A judge found that the authority had 'overstepped their athority' Calais Jungle Camp: Before and After Fri, November 11, 2016
Extraordinary photographs show life in the last days of the Calais 'Jungle' refugee camp at the end of October, alongside the current scene as it stands today.
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But the local authorities were so angry to hear that migrants had returned to Calais that they placed a large skip in front of the charity to prevent the modular showers from being installed.
The bitter tug-of-war between officials and the Catholic charity sparked a flurry of criticism, and the local council has since been accused of behaving “inhumanely” towards migrants.
Lionel Crusoé, the charity’s lawyer, told the court: “Migrants are pouring into Calais and are being forced to live in filthy, miserable conditions. They’re starving, exhausted, and some haven’t had a shower in weeks."
The mayor was said to have committed a 'manifestly unlawful interference in property rights'
But Paul-Guillaume Balaÿ, a lawyer who works for the town hall, argued that migrants could – if they really needed a hot meal and a shower – ask to be sent to one of the many migrant shelters located “outside of Calais”.
Deputy Calais mayor Emmanuel Agius, for his part, argued that the makeshift shelter would “encourage” migrants to return to Calais; and that the border town would once again become the “focal point” of France’s refugee crisis.
More than 400 migrants – including unaccompanied minors – are said to have returned to the port town
He said: “We demolished the ‘Jungle’ camp in a bid to rid Calais of migrants. We cannot let a charity open an emergency shelter with on-site showers in the centre of town."
Calais mayor Natacha Bouchart said that she would respect the court’s decision and remove the controversial skip, but reiterated her pledge to keep migrants out of Calais “at all costs”
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