NGOs fear for migrants’ welfare in northern France

Photo credit: THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION/Lin Taylor

TMP – 17/11/2017

Nabi, a 13-year-old Afghan migrant, started his journey to Europe one year ago encouraged by his parents to travel illegally to the UK.
However, after a grueling journey that cost his family thousands of pounds, Nabi has spent the past two months stuck in the Calais region in northern France. Like many other migrants in the area, he hopes to make it across the border to the UK. However, with tight security at the border he has been unsuccessful.

Like Nabi, many other migrants from Africa and the Middle East have also gathered in the Calais area. Most of them sleep rough in the forest without any proper shelter or tents.

Last year, the French government demolished the sprawling migrant camp in Calais, nicknamed ‘The Jungle’, which had been home to thousands of migrants. Now, NGOs estimate that more than 700 migrants, including unaccompanied children, have returned to the area.
“It is very difficult. I sleep in the jungle. But when police come and spray us (with teargas), we have to move,” Nabi said. “It is cold. Sometimes it rains. Sometimes Afghan and African fighting. Here it is danger life,” he added.

NGOs are concerned by how migrants like Nabi, who are already struggling to survive, will cope once winter sets in.
“The most terrifying thing right now is we’re going to walk into the woods one day and find somebody frozen to death,” Annie Gavrilescu from charity Help Refugees told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“Now the ‘Jungle’ has been cleared, the situation is even worse,” said Clare Moseley, the founder of Care4Calais. “When we had the camp, we at least had some basic sanitation and the people were living in tents and shelters. Now they are sleeping rough. It’s a really horrible situation,” she added.