Calais refugee camps 'brutally' cleared up in days leading to Brexit

1 February 2020, 14:28

Calais refugee camps were increasingly cleared in the days leading up to Brexit
Calais refugee camps were increasingly cleared in the days leading up to Brexit. Picture: Getty
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Calais refugee camps were "increasingly and brutally" cleared up in the weeks leading up to Brexit Day, says charity founder.

Police were seen clearing people out of tents and fencing off certain areas in the French port town, said Clare Moseley who founded Care4Calais.

The charity has been looking after people living in refugee camps in Calais and other towns across northern France and Belgium since 2016.

Ms Moseley described the situation as "horrible" when visiting one of the sites on Saturday, following the UK's exit from the European Union.

"As always the authorities' response here is always to do with security and deterrent, so in the run-up to Brexit we've seen extra clearances, we've seen more brutal attempts to get people out of here," she said.

"Taking away their tents, moving people away from areas, fencing off even more of the areas where they stay.

"It's been a horrible week, it's been very rough for a lot of the people here, spirits are very low and unfortunately that's always the political response."

Tents from refugee camps were cleared from Calais, said the charity founder
Tents from refugee camps were cleared from Calais, said the charity founder. Picture: PA

Calais' port and the Eurotunnel stations are prime areas for people to set up camp, in the hope of eventually reaching the UK.

Care4Calais has provided food, shelter and care mental health care - including suicide and self-harm prevention - since setting up more than three years ago.

However, Ms Moseley explained that she was worried conditions in the camps could get worse.

She said the political climate in the weeks after Brexit would encourage authorities to evict greater numbers of people from the areas.

The charity founder added: "Now Brexit has arrived I can only see things getting worse.

"Not so much because of Brexit, because the agreements here between France and the UK are just direct agreements, but in the political climate that we're in now, all they want to do is get rid of the refugees.

"It's the same policy they've been following for the last 10 years.

"It doesn't work, but what they believe is that if they make conditions hard enough, people will stop coming, so that's what they do, they make it as hard as they possibly can."

Ms Moseley still believes that the only way to solve the issues is to provide means for people to cross to the UK safely.

She added: "The crux of the problem is that there is no safe and legal way for people to make an asylum claim in the UK.

"To make an asylum claim in the UK, you have to physically be there, but there's no way to do that, so people have to keep trying illegally."