Fears for migrants in France as winter approaches

2015-10-19 21:05
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Calais - Winter is coming to France's port town of Calais, raising fears among aid groups about worsening conditions for the thousands of migrants living in makeshift camps.

Nighttime temperatures have dropped to around 5°C in the "New Jungle" camp, located next to the Calais ring road and will keep falling in the coming months.

The sound of hammers echoes through the camp's winding slum-like alleys as migrants try to reinforce crude shelters made of wood and salvaged material against the creeping cold.

"I have nothing to insulate it with," says Abdulilah, an Afghan in his 50s who is building a shack. "I'll wear an extra sweater provided by the organisations".

Tighter security

The changing weather and uncertainty surrounding a new crisis centre announced by the government this summer has alarmed the area's humanitarian organisations.

"We trudge through the mud," said Francois Guennoc, a camp volunteer with the aid group L'Auberge des Migrants. "There are places where water pools and it gets very difficult.

"We are buffeted by the wind, the rain, and the cold. It's even worse than the previous 'jungles'," he added.

Since September, illegal crossings to England from the port or the Eurotunnel - they were up to 150 per day in August - have slowed amid tighter security.

Asylum applications

But migrants and refugees keep coming and, predictably, the "New Jungle" has swelled.

The number of residents is now estimated to hover between 4,000 and 6,000 people, up from 2,500 in early June.

"We are on the brink of collapse," said Jean-Francois Corty, head of the French division of Medecins du Monde (Doctors of the World).

"The social welfare system is inadequate and so are the delays to process asylum applications," he said.

About 630 000 migrants have entered Europe illegally since the beginning of the year and Calais is, for some, the last hurdle before reaching England, their dream destination.



Read more on:    france  |  migrants

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