Home to homeless is often the notion that any government looks forward to initiate for its citizens. However, France is walking in an exactly opposite direction, putting migrants and refugees through rough situations in Calais.
Leilani Farha, the UN special rapporteur for housing (Guardian), highlighted the “dire” living conditions of an estimated 600-700 refugees and migrants. Those displaced took refuge in the tents on the northern French coast, which Farha pointed out as “extremely limited access to emergency shelter”.
The problem began in October 2016 after the shutdown of migrant camp in Calais that left hundreds of people struggling with unreasonably dearth sleep along the coast.
The issue, however, doesn’t stop here with the police adding salt to the injuries of people by forcibly evacuating those sleeping outside near the woods or by the sides of the roads. According to reports, the cops often confiscated tents and sleeping bags in the early hours of morning.
The housing envoy, Farha, who has researched on the prevailing conditions said, “the government of France must prohibit the repeated and systematic evictions of persons living in tents and informal settlements resulting in inhuman or degrading treatment.”
The envoy further stated that a significant rise in the numbers is a result of the deliberate effort of the police to do so. As a fact, more than 200 evictions were recorded in the first three months of this year.
“These evictions usually take place in the morning with no advance notice provided to residents. Occasionally teargas has been employed against residents during the evictions,” Farha said.
“Some witnesses I interviewed told me that they are being evicted every 48 hours. They also reported that they are not permitted to go back to their tents to retrieve them or to collect personal belongings. In fact, tents, sleeping bags and personal items are often destroyed or confiscated,” she added.
Back in 2016 when Calais’ camp was destructed, the French authorities imposed harsh conditions for the migrants. Besides, even the UK put funding into building the security wall, further creating an “inhospitable environment”, which barred people from exercising their rights.
However, such a policy has left the refugees and migrants become victims of unknown circumstances, and as Farah states it, France has become a “beacon” in Europe by including the right of housing under domestic law.
As it stands, more than 16,000 people are still estimated to live in 497 informal settlements in France, of which about one third are located in Greater Paris.