In lockdown: Migrants in France up against pandemic, police abuse

"For many migrants still camped out in Calais and Dunkirk, the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated an already dire situation. Supermarkets are reportedly turning them away and the police are removing their tents."

"The first sun rays catch the patches of green grass, dotted with half a dozen tents. Apart from birds' chirping and the occasional car driving past, it's peacefully quiet.

But the serenity is suddenly interrupted by the arrival of half a dozen police vans. Groups of police, equipped with face masks and some of them with riot gear, move towards the tents. They are about to do what they've been doing every two days since August 2018: They wake up the migrants and ask them to move their tents by a few meters — only for the migrants to move the tents back to where they were once the police have left.

Even in times of COVID-19, there's no let-up in police procedure. Aid organizations say at least 70 such evacuations have taken place at the various small migrant camps in Calais since the beginning of the lockdown. That makes migrants feel targeted, says Mengis, a 28-year-old migrant from Eritrea in north-east Africa. Just like all the other migrants we talked to that day, he didn't want his photo taken.

"The police don't see us as human beings. They don't respect us. If you don't wake up when they come, they take away your tent. Then, we have to ask aid workers for a new one and wait for up to a week," he said."

In lockdown: Migrants in France up against pandemic, police abuse (DW, link)


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