Court Orders Macron to Provide Water for Calais Refugees


The Conseil d’État ruled that authorities cannot refuse food, water, and facilities to refugees in Calais, ruling that current restrictions on food and water for migrants are inhumane. This came as a blow to French President Emmanuel Macron. Although Macron has made many favorable comments about refugees, he has generally opposed these policies, maintaining that opening water, toilet, and shower facilities in the Calais region would only attract more refugees to France.

This began a lower court's ruling that authorities in Calais cannot restrict refugees from accessing water. The ministry of the interior and Calais commune attempted to reverse this decision, appealing the court's ruling to the Conseil d’État. The court ruled that French authorities had “exposed these people to inhuman or degrading treatment.” It went on to state: “These shortcomings are a serious and unlawful infringement on a fundamental freedom.”

Human Rights Watch has also put pressure on the French government to tackle the humanitarian crisis in Calais. French police, they report: “routinely use pepper spray on child and adult migrants while they are sleeping or in other circumstances in which they pose no threat.” They also reported the repeated use of police force against refugees, including children. Vincent Berton, human right's watch reports, denied these claims, stating: “These are allegations, individuals’ declarations, that are not based on fact.” Aid workers also report that, when they have attempted to photograph incidents of police brutality on their cameras or phones, their devices have been seized and the photos deleted, despite the fact that French law allows for such photographs.

Although the Calais camp housed 10,000 migrants last year, there are currently only 300 to 400 residents at present. Gérard Collomb, the interior minister of France, says that providing humanitarian aid to these areas might attract more migrants.

Collumb suggests that the reduction in camp numbers resulted from France temporarily shutting down the camp last year, despite the fact that earlier last month, the French police forcibly removed 2,000 refugees who were sleeping in the streets of Paris following the camp's closure.

It remains to be seen how France will handle the refugee crisis. However, given the court's decision, French authorities will have to put new humanitarian aid programs into effect, including restoring refugee access to water, shower, and toilet facilities. Whether this will be enough remains to be seen.

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