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    In this Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016 file photo migrants gather near a fence in Calais, northern France.

    Calais Camp a Year After Demolition: Conditions 'Very Dire,' System Not Working

    © AP Photo / Matt Dunham
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    One year on from the destruction of the Calais Jungle camp in France, and the humanitarian crisis still remains the most severe of our time.

    Sputnik interviewed Marta Wallander, Director at the Refugee Rights Data Project, about the kinds of trials that refugees are facing in Calais, France.

    Sputnik: What are conditions like in Calais now?

    Marta Wallander: The current conditions are really dire. They're characterized by intentional sleep deprivation, by the authorities, with police officers waking refugees up in the middle of the night or early morning to chase them away from their sleep location. Spraying sleeping bag with tear gas or pepper spray, and basically confiscating sleeping bags, blankets, clothing shoes, and anything that keeps refugees remotely warm.

    There's a number of fantastic grassroots organizations that provide food, drinking water, and certain sanitation resources for refugees, but despite that, the conditions are very dire, and of course, health conditions are very widespread.

    In this Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016 file photo a man runs with a British flag inside a makeshift camp known as the jungle near Calais, northern France.
    © AP Photo / Emilio Morenatti
    In this Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016 file photo a man runs with a British flag inside a makeshift camp known as "the jungle" near Calais, northern France.
    Sputnik: What moves are being made to protect refugees against human trafficking?

    Marta Wallander: The current situation in Calais drives people further towards traffickers and smugglers in order to get out of their current situation. I don't think that the current state response is targeting smugglers, or traffickers in any meaningful way. Rather making life more difficult for refugees in the area. 

    Oct. 26, 2016 file photo people walk past as thick smoke and flames rise from amidst the tents after fires were started in the makeshift migrant camp known as the jungle near Calais, northern France.
    © AP Photo / Emilio Morenatti
    Oct. 26, 2016 file photo people walk past as thick smoke and flames rise from amidst the tents after fires were started in the makeshift migrant camp known as "the jungle" near Calais, northern France.

    The current system is not working. There needs to be a thorough and long-term solution, where people are met with state support rather than intimidation.

    Sputnik: What are some issues with the Dublin regulation? Is it a functional model?

    Marta Wallander: Some of the individuals we are meeting in Calais may even have papers in places like Italy. But they find themselves in destitution without any support, or any access to financial support whatsoever, without the right to work. They then leave Italy to try and find a more viable situation elsewhere. So that's just one example of where the Dublin regulation just doesn't work. It doesn't practice.

    Refugees at a special center for the relocation of migrants (Centres d'Accueil at d'Orientation) near a refugee camp in Calais, France.
    © Sputnik / Irina Kalashnikova
    Refugees at a special center for the relocation of migrants (Centres d'Accueil at d'Orientation) near a refugee camp in Calais, France.

    Through fear of being deported back to their country of origin — where they might be prosecuted or perhaps the war is going on — refugees will instead try to find another way out, by heading down to Calais and trying to cross to the UK. There needs to be a thorough and long term solution, where people are met with state support rather than intimidation, where they are presented with alternatives.

    Sputnik: What could be an appropriate response in moving forward?

    Marta Wallander: The situation needs to be de-politicized, de-securitized. We need to see it for what it is. It is a humanitarian issue, with individuals really suffering in their current context, without any viable alternatives. The current response is characterized by high levels of police violence and inhumane treatment — it's not going to get us anywhere.

    Related:

    Violent Mistreatment of Calais Refugees Unlikely to Stop New Migration Arrivals
    UK Unaware of Whereabouts of at Least 100 Child Refugees Smuggled From Calais
    UK Refuses to Accept Remaining Children Refugees From Calais Camp - Reports
    Tags:
    refugee crisis, migrant crisis, refugee camp, smuggling, humanitarian crisis, human trafficking, Refugee Rights Data Project, Calais, Europe, France
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