Calais bans food handouts to migrants

TMP – 10/03/2017

The northern French port town of Calais has issued a decree effectively banning the distribution of food by charities to migrants, in an effort to prevent the establishment of a new camp in Calais.

The mayoral decree, which banned any “repeated, prolonged gatherings” at the camp, said the “regular, persistent and large presence of individuals distributing meals to migrants” posed a threat to the security and tranquility of the area.

Calais mayor Natacha Bouchart said she would implement policies “to prevent the distribution of meals to migrants,” and added she is “personally opposed, even if it is difficult to say so on a human level,” to food handouts in her town.

“It’s not a directive against the distribution of meals, but against gatherings because these lead to law and order issues as well as security and waste problems.”

The decree, which will effectively end food distribution and other charity work around the camp, comes as more than 400 migrants, mostly unaccompanied children, have returned to Calais in recent weeks.

“These past few days, a regular and massive presence of individuals was noticed in the industrial zone of Dunes. This presence was due to the distribution of food to migrants,” Bouchart said in a statement.

“I was alerted by the sector employees — notably the business owners and the representatives of economic life — that there had been some tensions between them and the volunteers and migrants during these distributions.”

“This is why I decided to make an order that forbids any gathering, so as to prevent any new public disturbance,” she added.

Legal documents setting out the restrictions were reportedly posted near the site of the demolished camp.

One volunteer, who has been helping to distribute food to migrants for the last four months, said police fired teargas to prevent volunteers from handing out breakfast to about 30 teenagers in a field near the motorway outside the city on Thursday 2 March.

“Conditions are becoming more and more problematic for the migrants. They don’t sleep, they can’t take a shower, they are more and more tired. We are really worried about their future,” volunteer Sarah Arrom said.