French police expel migrants from camps after scabies outbreak

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French police on Wednesday expelled around 550 people from makeshift camps in the northern port of Calais after a scabies outbreak.

The action drew criticism from rights groups over the treatment of migrants hoping to reach Britain.

Local officials said about 200 policemen had been deployed to evict the occupants from the camps which were then bulldozed.

The authorities said the expulsion was aimed at stopping an outbreak of scabies in the camps, which had no running water or sanitation.

The people lived in makeshift shelters and tents constructed essentially with bits of wood and plastic sheeting.  

A French policeman stands guard near makeshift shelter as immigrants are evacuated from an improvised camp in Calais on Wednesday

Some of the migrants put up improvised barricades with rubbish skips but the operation passed off without any violence.

Confusion was widespread, notably at one of the largest camps housing some 400 people – mainly Syrian and Afghan exiles – as the migrants have nowhere else to go, AFP reported.

One Afghan cried out in broken English: “Where is human rights? No human rights. We risked our lives and got here. No disease, we want to live here with humanity.”  

A French policeman searching shelters  of illegal  immigrants in their camp s

Mr Denis Robin, the prefect of the Pas-de-Calais region, defended the sweep.

“It’s a public health issue. All the studies indicated that there was a scabies epidemic. These camps are very big and they are located right in the heart of Calais,” he said.

An Eritrean migrant walks past a police officer during the daily food distribution at the harbour in Calais

“What will these people do now? Live on the streets, roam around?,” asked Mr Vincent Deconinck from the Secours Catholique charity.

Eritrean migrants take cover from the rain under an umbrella during the daily food distribution at Calais

Source: AFP