In a camp in Coquelles, close to Calais, Sudanese migrants warm themselves by a fire because they have no tent to protect them from the rain | Photo: Mehdi Chebil for InfoMigrants
In a camp in Coquelles, close to Calais, Sudanese migrants warm themselves by a fire because they have no tent to protect them from the rain | Photo: Mehdi Chebil for InfoMigrants

Three refugee rights activists have begun a hunger strike to draw attention to harsh living conditions suffered by foreign nationals trying to get to the UK from France's Calais region.

Three activists began a hunger strike in Calais, northwestern France, on Monday (October 11) to draw attention to harsh living conditions of migrants and refugees in the region, according to reporting from French daily Le Monde.

Local chaplain Philippe Demeestere, Anaïs Vogel and Ludovic Holbein -- the latter two a couple in their thirties who has been working with refugees for months -- have set up camp beds in a local Catholic church in the city center, Saint-Pierre de Calais, Le Monde reported Tuesday.

What are their demands?

The three hunger strikers are calling on local police to stop dismantling local migrant camps and confiscating migrants' personal belongings and tents, at least during the winter months, according to the French daily.

The activists have also criticized that state authorities are not in touch with local humanitarian associations on migration issues.

Many migrants attempting to reach the UK from France travel to the Calais region hoping to make the dangerous crossing across the English Channel in a small dinghy or to travel through the Channel tunnel hidden in a truck. Hundreds of migrants are sleeping rough in makeshift camps.

Human Rights Watch: Migrants face 'daily harassment'

According to a report released by Human Rights Watch last week, migrants face "daily harassment and humiliation" in the Calais region -- police frequently dismantle camps, destroy migrants' tents and confiscate their belongings.

"Police routinely require migrants to move temporarily off the land they are occupying while police confiscate -- and often destroy -- tents, tarps, and sleeping bags the people have not managed to take with them. Police subjected most Calais encampments to these routine eviction operations every other day," the human rights organization wrote in the report.

 

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