French police evict migrants from camp on Channel coast

Published December 1, 2021
FRENCH police dismantle a makeshift camp near Dunkirk on Tuesday.—Reuters
FRENCH police dismantle a makeshift camp near Dunkirk on Tuesday.—Reuters

GRANDE: Police on Tue­sday tore down a makeshift camp near the northern Fre­nch port of Dunkirk where scores of migrants who say they are fleeing war, poverty and persecution in the Middle East were hunkered down with hopes of reaching Britain.

Armed officers entered the camp, which runs along a disused railway line, before workers in protective suits pulled down tents and plastic shelters.

Charity workers say the 27 migrants who drowned in the Channel last Wednesday had stayed in the same area before they attempted the perilous sea crossing from France to Britain. Their dinghy deflated in the open sea.

The number of migrants crossing the Channel has surged to 25,776 in 2021, up from 8,461 in 2020 and 1,835 in 2019, according to tallies compiled by the BBC using Home Office data.

The spike in numbers has angered Britain, which accu­ses France of doing too little to stem the flow. Paris says that once migrants reach the shores of the channel, it is too late to prevent them crossing.

French police routinely tear up the camps that spring up between Calais and Dunkirk. Evictions at the Grande-Synthe site had been taking place on a weekly basis for the past few weeks, one charity worker said.

The migrants are typically transported to holding centres scattered across the country where they are encouraged to file for asylum, though many quickly make their way back to the Channel coast.

Hussein Hamid, 25, an Iranian Kurd, said it was the second time he had been evicted. On the first occasion, he was bussed to Lyon 760km to the south.

Published in Dawn, December 1st, 2021

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