Calais migrants are offered shelter in ‘great cold weather’ plan

On Saturday and for the second night in a row, a heated shed was set up in Calais in northern France to protect migrants against the cold.

Migrants in Calais are offered shelter in the context of the "great cold weather" plan.
Migrants in Calais are offered shelter in the context of the "great cold weather" plan. A. Moyses

The Pas-de-Calais prefecture rented a 500 square-meters shelter to accommodate migrants after the second level of France’s "great cold weather" plan – a plan put into place by the government to take measures in case of harsh winter – was triggered.

About 400 mattresses were set up and each migrant were provided with a sleeping bag.

Eritrean, Sudanese, Ethiopian and Afghan migrants were among those who came to protect themselves from the cold. Some of them had walked under the rain for an hour-and-a-half from their tents installed in the dunes of Calais, the AFP reported.

On Friday 44 migrants had spent the night in the shed located in an industrial zone a few kilometres from the port, opened from 6:30 pm to 9:00 am.

On Saturday the wind blew at a speed of more than 120 kilometres per hour, prompting many more migrants to come to the shelter. At 9:00 pm they were 160.

Two thousands to 2,300 migrants live in shelters in Calais and in the surrounding areas with the hope to get to Great Britain which they consider as an Eldorado.

They used to be approximately 300 to 500 in the previous winters.

According to the Pas-de-Calais prefecture, up to 1,500 people could be welcomed on the site which has a total surface area of 400 square meters.

But Christophe Delhay, the president of the association Solid’R, is sceptical. “A part of the building takes on water and doesn’t have any doors,” he told AFP.

The French association Solid’R, in charge of welcoming the migrants, received about 220,000 euros from the State.


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