The expulsion of an estimated 700 migrants and asylum-seekers from camps in Calais in northern France risks aggravating the health problems that the authorities say prompted the evictions, Amnesty International has said.
French police encircled the makeshift settlements occupied by migrants and asylum-seekers yesterday morning (28 May) and began a process of dismantling them, justifying their actions as a response to a reported outbreak of scabies in the camps.
Local NGOs have reported that the majority of those living in the camps were Syrian, Afghan and Eritrean nationals, some of whom had already sought asylum in France and others who hoped to travel to the United Kingdom. Yesterday, a group of ten human rights, medical and migrants’ rights NGOs – including Amnesty International France – wrote to the French Prime Minister Manuel Valls ahead of the eviction, reminding him of the catastrophic health situation in the camps.
Reports indicate that only an unspecified number of children among those evicted will be offered temporary alternative housing. Amnesty, domestic NGOs and local associations fear that most of the inhabitants of the camps will be left homeless and susceptible to other human rights violations.
Amnesty International France’s Executive Stephan Oberreit said: "It is appalling that the French authorities have proceeded with this mass eviction and paid no heed to the long-repeated warnings of NGOs about the catastrophic health situation in the informal encampments in the Calais area.
“Reports about the inadequate distribution of scabies drugs on the ground add to our concern.
“France must respect its obligation to migrants and asylum-seekers and treat them with dignity, not throw them to the wind.”
Forced evictions are evictions carried out without adequate notice and consultation with those affected, without legal safeguards and without assurances of adequate alternative accommodation, says Amnesty.
Under international law, France must not carry out forced evictions and must protect all people from them, including migrants and asylum-seekers, particularly when faced with an urgent healthcare situation.
Already precarious living and health conditions in informal settlements are often made worse by forced evictions, which perpetuate a lack of adequate housing and can interrupt treatment and programmes provided by health organisations and NGOs to people living in camps.