Mayor of Calais ‘bans distribution of food to migrants’

Natacha Bouchart says she is 'personally opposed, even if it is difficult to say so on a human level' to humanitarian aid efforts in the region

Lucy Pasha-Robinson
Thursday 02 March 2017 23:53 GMT
French interior minister Bruno Le Roux with Calais Mayor Natacha Bouchart [L]
French interior minister Bruno Le Roux with Calais Mayor Natacha Bouchart [L] (Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty )

The Mayor of Calais has reportedly banned the distribution of meals to migrants in a bid to prevent a new refugee camp from forming in the area, just months after the Jungle was demolished.

Natacha Bouchart said she was “personally opposed, even if it is difficult to say so on a human level” to any humanitarian efforts in the region, including setting up showers and distributing meals, La Voix du Nord reports.

The Les Républicains politician also claimed handing out meals posed a security threat to the area.

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

The mayoral decree said the “regular, persistent and large presence of individuals distributing meals to migrants” threatened the peace and security of the area.

It also banned any “repeated, prolonged gatherings” in the area, making handing out food impossible.

However charities said the decree would not change their approach.

“We have handed out food both day and night for two months, and we will continue to do it for a simple reason: people are hungry,” Gaël Monzy with charity Utopia56 said.

Calais's refugee children have a message for the UK government

L'Auberge des Migrants charity president Christian Salomé said a ban would affect refugee children the most.

“Adults will always find a way to buy food in the shops, but for minors it will be a real problem – they have no money at all,” he told The Guardian.

France’s interior minister Bruno Le Roux repeated several times there would be no new camp in Calais during a visit on Wednesday. However, he added: “We will not prevent the distribution of meals.”

It came as more than 400 migrants, mostly unaccompanied children, returned to northern France in recent weeks.

France moved more than 6,000 migrants, many fleeing poverty and war in their homelands, from the site of the makeshift camp in the port city last October.

Most were sent to reception centres around the country in a bid to calm growing local anger.

Migrants from the Middle East, Asia and Africa have streamed into Calais for years, hoping to cross the short stretch of sea to Britain by leaping onto trucks and trains, or even walking through the tunnel under the Channel.

Last year, it was widely thought the Government would take 3,000 lone children from European refugee camps after Lord Alfred Dubs forced the Government to accept an amendment on the matter when the Immigration Act passed through Parliament.

However, the Home Office unexpectedly announced the scheme would end after 100 more children reached the UK, bringing total numbers to 350.

A separate scheme to bring unaccompanied refugee children with direct family links to Britain under the Dublin convention was also closed.

Now the Home Office has confirmed it has agreed with French authorities to reconsider some of these Dublin cases.

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