Parallels can be drawn between the way refugees have been managed like “cattle” in the Calais Jungle camp and the treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany, a charity head has said.
French authorities are due to start demolishing the settlement on Monday, with buses expected to start transporting the majority of the camp’s estimated 6,500 residents to temporary accommodation centres over the rest of France.
Clare Moseley, founder of the Care4Calais refugee crisis charity which has been delivering aid to people in the camp, told the Press Association: “I would not want to trivialise what happened to the Jews because it was so awful, but there are parallels that can be drawn.
“The way that the French people treat the refugees sometimes can feel very much like cattle, it can feel very dehumanising.”
Speaking of the shipping containers housing some of the camp’s residents she said: “When they allocate them they just allocate the spaces with no thought for who the people are as individuals, so they mix communities, they mix ages … Nobody ever gets an unbroken night’s sleep, nobody ever feels safe.
“It’s very much a production line of sleep here, get food there – but no thought for the social side, so there is a feeling that they treat them like cattle rather than like people.”
From Monday, Government-organised buses are expected to take thousands of the camp’s residents to temporary reception centres where they will have to claim asylum in France within a set period of time or face deportation.
Those who refuse to leave Calais risk being arrested and deported, charities are warning.
Ms Moseley said she was “very concerned” about the well-being of the inhabitants when they reach the new centres which she said range from apartments for families to buildings such as converted barns or disused schools.
She said: “For the last year the only people who have been providing the refugees with their clothing, with their food, with medical facilities, with legal advice, has been volunteers in the camp.
“The idea that after a year of not providing all these things in one location, the French authorities are suddenly going to start providing them in over 100 locations seems questionable, so we are really worried about where they are going to get all these things from.”
Ms Moseley said she was hopeful that the demolition would take place without violent altercations, despite spats involving tear gas, smoke grenades and small rocks being thrown on Saturday evening.
Over the weekend charities have been trying to psychologically prepare people for the move, and hundreds of migrants and refugees queued for hours in the camp’s muddy, water-logged main thoroughfare for rucksacks to transport their belongings.
Ms Moseley said: “The aim is that, rather than it on Monday morning being a shock for them, or them reacting with maybe anger or disbelief, they are ready to move and the reaction is as calm as it possibly can be.
She added: “We want them to be ready to move and resigned to moving”.
Lord Dubs was himself a refugee from Nazi Germany, coming to England on the Kindertransport in 1938.