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Migrants: evacuation started in Calais. Secours-catholique, “seeing migrants lined up is moving”

“I have been here since 5 in the morning. For the time being, the situation is calm”. Didier Degrémont, president of the delegation of Secours-catholique Pas de Calais, takes stock of the situation in the Calais camp, where the evacuation began at 6 in the morning. The government’s plan is to bring about 7,500 immigrants to the 287 shelter and reception centres (Cao) that have been set up all over France. Only Corsica and Île-de-France have been left out of the rehoming plan. 60 buses will leave even today, 45 tomorrow, 40 on Wednesday, and so on, all week long. A huge logistic plan, which will be supervised by 1,250 police agents and officers. A 3 thousand square metres’ hangar has been built between the shantytown and the bus departure, to house the sorting centre. “The migrants are being lined up – Didier Degrémont tells – with their suitcases. So far, everything seems to go on well, all well planned, well organised. But it’s extremely moving to see all these people that we have supported so far, leaving. Our great hope is that they ware welcomed, as we promised them. Our worry now is to find out what will happen later on. We wonder what will happen to those who have no refugee status”. The migrants are walking different lines, with adults separated from unaccompanied children, families and vulnerable people who need support (and will be taken care of by Doctors Without Borders). They will be offered two destinations, in two different regions they can choose from. There are very many women and children, including unaccompanied children, the local delegate of Secours-catholique confirms.

“In the evening – he adds –, there are always riots with the police. They are people who express their pain and their rage: they try to pass through, and, every time they try, there’s always the hope they can make it. It is true, though, that these people were living here in indescribable conditions. In front of me, I see tents completely soaked in water. It could not go on like this. All this had to end, hoping such a catastrophic situations will never be seen again. It is undignified, it is undignified for a country like France that there are men and women living in such inhuman conditions. Today, the mechanism has started, and the associations want to be there to make sure everything is very strictly supervised. All over France, Secours-catholique has mobilised all its local members to take in the people who come”.

The “big question” for the associations and for Secours-catholique is the fate of those who do not want to leave Calais and want to reach England anyway. Because of this, Caritas France is asking the government to put a permanent reception centre in Calais, “because – as explained by Degrémont – there will always be men and women who come here in the attempt to leave for England”.

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