Aid groups involved in food distribution have slammed the move, criticizing officials for turning their backs on those fleeing violence and calling for the ban to be lifted.
“We are appalled at the ban on distributing food to refugees in Calais, which deprives the most vulnerable people — including unaccompanied minors — of the basic human right to food,” said Sue Jex, Head of UK Operations for the refugee support charity Care4Calais.
“Refugees fleeing unthinkable violence at home continue to arrive in Calais every day, desperate for food and shelter but forced to live in inhumane conditions.”
She added: “We would urge those in positions of authority to lift bans on food distribution, and act now to secure the lives of refugees urgently.”
Utopia 56, another volunteer organization that helps migrants in Calais, called the ban “a bad decision” and said it wouldn’t prevent fights happening in the area.
“This is inhumane, people are in danger. Besides, we do not only distribute food, we also give migrants sleeping bags,” a Utopia 56 spokesperson told CNN. “I understand the inhabitants of Calais, but this is not a way to stop people from being aggressive: when you are hungry, you become aggressive.”
Utopia 56, along with the association L’Auberge des Migrants, distributed 200 meals on Thursday evening, flouting the decree.
In a statement released by L’Auberge des Migrants, signed by Care4Calais, Utopia 56, and other aid groups, the association said that volunteers are doing this work because the State and other public bodies “do not respect” their own legal and humanitarian obligations to migrants.
Authorities dismantled part of the “Jungle” camp in Calais last October, in a bid to stem the flow of migrants hoping to cross the Eurotunnel to the UK, just over 30 miles away.
#FACTS In the 15th century, half the population of Calais worked for the British wool trade. Calais, Dunkirk, Boulogne, Saint-Malo and Le Havre are the only French towns allowed by royal decree to have their own flags.