Natacha Bouchart, the mayor of Calais, France, is under fire for signing an order that bans human rights organizations and aid workers from providing food to refugees in the area.
Bouchart believes distributing food in the former Calais jungle poses a security threat to the town and could lead to the establishment of refugee camps. Officials are also preventing local charities from opening showers for teenage migrants in the town.
The order signed on March 2 states that the “regular, persistent and large presence of individuals distributing meals to migrants” posed a threat to the peace and security of the area.
"It's not a directive against the distribution of meals, but against gatherings, because these lead to law and order issues, as well as security and waste problems. I took this decision to make sure that no permanent base or squat is created around Calais," Bouchart told AFP.
Despite the orders, aid groups supporting refugees have vowed to continue providing food to migrants, even if they have to change their distribution spots every night to avoid the police. Seven such groups signed a statement against the ban.
Banning food in Calais isn't the answer -migrants should be cared for in centres away from Calais. It's vital to ensure no new Jungle forms.— Charlie Elphicke (@CharlieElphicke) March 3, 2017
Until ban Utopia56 cooking 250 meals a night, 80% 13 to 22 year old refugees in Calais. They will continue "people are hungry” #solidarity— Alice Cuttlefish (@alicecuttlefish) March 6, 2017
“After attempting to prevent Catholic Relief to allow the migrants present on Calais to wash, the mayor of Calais wants to prohibit associations, on the pretext of disturbing public order, to distribute meals. The decree produced by the mayor is inhuman and unworthy. The associations do this work because the state and public authorities do not fulfill their own obligations in terms of laws and humanity,” the statement read.
It is absolutely shocking that the Calais mayor has ordered the implementation of such a ridiculous ban that could cost hundreds of refugees their lives. Also, it is important to note, that the ban won’t prevent migrants from coming to Calais.
“This will absolutely not work for stopping people from coming to Calais. They don’t come thinking that they will have food from organizations. They come for other reasons than just the distribution of food. It’s just an accessory,” a volunteer at the Legal Shelter told The Independent.
Check out the video above to learn more about Bouchart’s ban.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Regis Duvignau