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French court orders Calais officials to provide migrants with water

Denis Charlet, AFP

An administrative court in northern France on Monday rejected a request to set up a new emergency centre to shelter migrants in the port city of Calais, but also ruled they should receive humanitarian aid.

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The court in Lille partially ruled in favour of 11 non-government organisations that lodged a legal complaint last week against local authorities who have “prevented” the distributing of food to hundreds of migrants sleeping rough in Calais.

Judges ordered officials, within 10 days, to establish several drinking fountains, toilets and showers for migrants who are “exposed to inhuman and degrading conditions” in the area.

There are between 400 and 600 migrants and refugees in Calais, who are drawn to the northern town in the hope of illegally reaching Britain on vehicles crossing the English Channel.

The court said that after the 10-day delay, the city of Calais would be fined €100 per day if it did not comply with the ruling, which was hailed as a victory by migrants' rights activists.

The court said it was against reopening a centre to shelter migrants on a permanent basis – as has been proposed by some activists – but said it was “unlawful to deny all aid to people who are in a state of complete deprivation”.

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