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Court gives French government a week to clean up Calais camp

Migrants queue as volunteers distribute sleeping bags in the makeshift camp in Calais, 16 October 2015.
Migrants queue as volunteers distribute sleeping bags in the makeshift camp in Calais, 16 October 2015. Reuters/Philippe Wojazer

France’s Council of State ordered on Monday authorities to clean up the migrant camp in Calais known as the Jungle, where thousands of people are currently living in unsanitary conditions. According to the court, conditions in the camp “expose the migrants […] to inhuman or degrading treatment”.

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The decision ordered the French government “to begin in one week installing more water taps, toilets and rubbish collection services, to clean the site and to allow access for emergency services”.

The ruling “will not change anything operationally,” said Pierre-Henry Brandet, spokesman for the Interior Ministry. “The measures had been planned,” he added. Work started earlier this month and bulldozers have started flattening a four-hectare area within the camp to build improved accommodations.

“It’s the first time obligations arising from the State are acknowledged,” lawyer Patrice Spinosi told AFP on Monday, adding the case could set a precedent. “A legal framework is laid," he said. "The state is responsible for a migrant camp.”

About 4,500 people are currently living in the Calais camp. According to the NGOs Médecins du Monde and Secours Catholique the number of inhabitants has nearly doubled since September.

Most of the migrants are from the Middle East and Africa and are trying to reach Britain, despite tighter security restraints that seek to stop illegal Channel crossings.

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