Court orders France to improve living conditions for migrants

Only months after the demolition of 'the Jungle,' a migrant camp near Calais, France, watchdog groups have demanded that the migrants have access to drinking water and bathroom facilities.

Pascal Rossignol/Reuters/File
A migrant carries his belongings as he leaves the Calais 'Jungle' in France on Oct. 22, 2016, just days before the migrant camp was demolished.

The French government will provide water and sanitation to migrants in Calais and open two reception centers away from the city, it said hours after a court ordered it to end what it called inhumane treatment of foreigners trying to get to Britain.

Less than a year after "the Jungle," a vast shanty town next to the northern port city, was razed, migrants have returned, with charities and the national human rights watchdog fiercely critical of the squalid conditions they live in.

Interior minister Gerard Collomb said there were about 350-400 migrants around Calais, compared with the estimated 10,000 who used to live in the Jungle. The two new centers to house them will be in Bailleul and Troisvaux, about an hour's drive inland.

"We don't want to repeat the mistakes of the past but we also want to handle the problems in Calais," Mr. Collomb said, indicating a determination to avoid providing facilities that could draw migrants to the town, making it once more a hub for those trying to reach Britain.

Access to water, showers, and toilets will be provided in the Calais area via mobile facilities, Collomb said.

Earlier on Monday, France's top administrative court, the Conseil d'Etat, ruled that the treatment of migrants was unlawful.

"The Conseil d'Etat considers that these living conditions reveal a failure by the public authorities that has exposed these people to inhuman or degrading treatment," it said in a statement.

"These shortcomings are a serious and unlawful infringement on a fundamental freedom."

It said a lower court was within its rights to order the provision of toilets, drinking water, and showers.

France has avoided the brunt of Europe's migrant crisis, receiving a fraction of the asylum seekers handled by Italy or Germany.

While President Emmanuel Macron has called for migrants to be treated with dignity, his government has refused to open a new reception center in Calais, saying it would act as a magnet for migrants.

Last week, Human Rights Watch pressed France to end what it described as recurrent police violence against migrants in Calais. Collomb said there would be an investigation into police behavior.

The European Union is struggling to find a coherent answer to a migration crisis that has tested cooperation between member states. Mr. Macron has instructed his government to speed up France's asylum process.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Court orders France to improve living conditions for migrants
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today