In the first of a two-part series, written before the tragic death of four refugees who drown crossing the English Channel in October, a Calais-based refugee activist writes about the conditions in the camps in northern France, and the plight of those attempting to come to Britain.
For months, refugees in Calais and Dunkirk have been a community under siege. Their existence has always been precarious, with appalling living conditions, constant harassment from the police and unrelenting hostility from the French authorities. Recently these attacks have been stepped up to levels not seen since the destruction of the original Calais jungle in 2016. There has been a long series of assaults on the squalid settlements where the refugees live. The area available to them on waste ground and in industrial estates on the edge of Calais has been systematically reduced.