What’s happening in Calais is unacceptable.
For months, violent large-scale evictions have regularly been taking place, with police using tear gas to disperse people from informal camps, then taking tents, blankets, and other personal belongings. Whilst some people are transported to temporary accommodation centres, many are left to sleep rough in increasingly bad weather.
These evictions have left people struggling to access essentials like food and water, and now the French government is criminalising the people stepping up to help. It has been made illegal for groups to distribute food and water to people in the city centre. Whilst distributions are still currently permitted outside the city centre, without the food provided by NGOs, thousands of displaced people sleeping rough or in makeshift camps in the area would often not have enough to eat, and in some cases would have no food at all.
The conditions in Calais are unbearable. As legal routes like resettlement and family reunion are increasingly limited, people are more likely to attempt desperate journeys.
Beyond the headlines and political posturing, every person making these journeys is a human being who deserves respect, compassion and safety.