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French court rejects application to close migrant camp eateries

This file picture shows the migrant camp in Calais. A court in the city of Lille rejected an application by authorities in Calais for interim closure of unlicensed shops in the camp.
This file picture shows the migrant camp in Calais. A court in the city of Lille rejected an application by authorities in Calais for interim closure of unlicensed shops in the camp. Pascal Rossignol/Reuters

A court in the city of Lille on Friday rejected an application by authorities in Calais for interim closure of unlicensed shops and eateries in the northern port's ‘Jungle’ migrant camp.

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The authorities in Calais had sought an emergency order to close 72 unlicensed stalls and restaurants among the tents which house at least 4,500 migrants and asylum-seekers who are aiming to reach Britain.

But in his ruling, the judge said that while the concerns expressed were “completely understandable,” the matter was not urgent enough to warrant the expulsion of the vendors.

He also highlighted the social role of the shops, cafes and restaurants where migrants can eat the cuisine of their native lands at a fraction of the cost of a French restaurant meal.

While he accepted that the outlets lacked “any administrative authorisation” and that some “do not respect the most basic sanitary rules”, they had a valuable role as “calm meeting places for the migrants”.

Following the ruling, the prefecture of Pas-de-Calais issued a statement saying “these places do not respect any sanitary rules and pose significant risks in terms of fire safety and public disorder by maintaining an underground economy,” adding that it “will continue to fight against these illegal phenomena.”

According to the prefecture, about 4,500 migrants live on the site while the charities and migrants' associations say the number has gone beyond 9,000.
 

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