Court orders French government to clean up Calais migrant camp

Claire Gallen
Migrants and refugees in the Calais migrant camp known as "the Jungle" observe a minute of silence on November 20, 2015, a week after jihadist attacks in Paris left 130 people dead and more than 350 injured (AFP Photo/Bernard Barron)

Paris (AFP) - France's top administrative court Monday gave the government one week to start cleaning up the migrant camp known as "the Jungle" near the northern port of Calais where it said thousands are living in "inhuman" conditions.

Conditions in the camp "expose the migrants... to inhuman or degrading treatment," said the Council of State.

It ordered authorities "to begin in one week installing more water taps, toilets and rubbish collection services, to clean the site and to allow access for emergency services."

The decision confirmed a similar ruling by a court in the city of Lille on November 2, which the interior ministry had appealed.

A spokesman for the interior ministry said the latest ruling "will not change anything operationally, as the measures called for" by the court in Lille "had been planned."

Local authorities estimate there are 4,500 people currently living in makeshift camps around Calais.

Almost all of the migrants, most from the Middle East and Africa, are trying to reach Britain, but tighter security has frustrated attempts to smuggle their way across the Channel.

Mounting frustration has led to clashes with police in recent months, and increasing reports of violence and theft around The Jungle.

Doctors of the World and Catholic Relief Services, as well as other NGOs, have appealed for an end to the "serious human rights violations" suffered by the migrants living in the camp where the number of inhabitants has nearly doubled since the end of September.

Work started earlier this month to build improved accommodation.

Bulldozers started flattening a sprawling area of four hectares (nearly 10 acres) within the camp, to provide more permanent, heated shelters for families.