Skip to Navigation

Refugee Rights Data Project report paints harrowing picture of current situation in Calais

Date of Publication: 
31 October 2017
Summary: 

Children among hundreds of refugees and displaced people sleeping rough a year after Jungle camp demolition

Refugee Rights Data Project report paints harrowing picture of current situation in Calais

31 October 2017
EIN

The UK-based Refugee Rights Data Project (RRDP) has released a new report looking at the situation of refugees and migrants in Calais a year after the 'Jungle' camp was demolished.

You can read the 40-page report here.

RRDP undertook research in both Paris and Calais for the report, including in-depth investigations of the Calais area in April 2017 and in October 2017.

Seven RRDP researchers surveyed 233 individuals living in Calais, aged from 12 to 45, for the report. The overwhelming majority of those surveyed (97%) were male. Over 40% of those surveyed said they were 17 or under.

The report finds that twelve months on from the Jungle camp's demolition, an estimated 700 refugees and displaced people – including hundreds of unaccompanied children – are sleeping rough in Calais, seeking shelter under improvised tarps and tents.

RRDP says its findings "paint a harrowing picture of the current situation. The treatment of refugees and displaced people is characterised by excessive use of police force, a chronic lack of available information about asylum laws, substandard living conditions and an inadequate response to the safeguarding needs of unaccompanied minors in displacement."

90% of those surveyed said they 'didn't feel safe' or 'didn't feel safe at all' in Calais. For minors aged 17 or under, that figure was over 94%.

The report states: "The displaced people in and around Calais have typically experienced repeated challenges throughout all stages of their displacement. Many have taken dangerous journeys to and across Europe which often lead to serious injuries or health problems - including the risk of fatalities. Spending long periods of time sleeping rough exacerbates these problems, leading not only to physical ailments but also serious mental health concerns. Without the security of a communal camp or an adequate reception centre, the displaced people in northern France are at high risk of sustained health problems, exploitation, violence and abuse."

RRDP found that violence by the French police was common, with 91.8% of the refugees and displaced people surveyed saying they had experienced it.

A 19-year old from Eritrea said: "It's been a year since I came here from Italy. There is nothing that I haven't experienced with regard to police violence. I suspect I have developed eye problems as a consequence of the violence. There are no human rights here!"

Over 70% said that they faced tear gas either every day or several times a week.

According to the report, nightly police raids almost always include the use of tear gas or pepper spray, with the majority of respondents explaining that their sleeping bags and blankets usually get sprayed to prevent them from being used again.

A 25-year old Sudanese man is quoted as saying: "At night while sleeping we get woken up with tear gas and get kicked to move away."

52% of those surveyed reported having experienced health problems in France. Mental health issues were also found to be endemic.

Many of those in Calais still hope to make it to the UK, with the vast majority of respondents (92.2%) saying they believe that the UK is the best country for them. Around 28% of the individuals surveyed by RRDP said they had family in the UK.

RRDP is particularly concerned that little, if anything, appears to have been done to address the situation of the several hundred minors in Calais. The authorities and police are said to make no distinction between unaccompanied minors and adults in their treatment and approach. RRDP says the the child protection failure unfolding in the area is striking and children as young as 12 are sleeping rough.

The report concludes by saying "effective and long-lasting policy action by the French and UK Governments is urgently needed to secure the human rights of refugees and displaced people in Calais. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights must be at the centre of any policy initiative to ensure that refugees and displaced people are given the protection and opportunity expected by international standards. In sum, the British and French governments still have an urgent role to play in the development of this humanitarian crisis, twelve months on from the demolition of the Calais camp."