Refugee Crisis: Toddlers, Babies Forced To Sleep Rough In N France Camp
Toddlers and babies are sleeping rough in northern France, volunteers said, amid warnings that scores of destitute refugee families have returned or arrived in the area since the demolition of the "Jungle" camp last year.
Photographs provided to The Independent by charities working on the ground in Dunkirk show babies less than a year old sleeping and crawling around in the woodland of one of a number of unofficial camps that have sprung up in the region.
Around 20 infants are said to be in the camp, which reportedly accommodates between 300 and 500 people, many of them whole families including grandparents and pregnant mothers.
Most were former residents of the Jungle camp in Calais and the Grande-Synthe camp in Dunkirk, both of which have been demolished in the past nine months.
The unofficial camp photographed, which is said to have grown considerably in recent months, is dismantled by police on a weekly basis to prevent it becoming more permanent - a process which sometimes sees children get hurt, according to volunteers.
In one case a three-year-old was reportedly seen with bruised face - allegedly caused by a baton while on another occasion, a mother was said to have told police that her baby was sleeping in a tent, only for officers to proceed to pepper spray the occupants.
Volunteers said there were between 40 and 50 young children in the camp, which contains no proper toilets and relies on donations from volunteers for tents, food and adequate clothing.
Heather Young, a volunteer with Paris Refugee Ground Support who was in the camp photographed earlier this week, said she saw "dozens" of babies and toddlers living in the woodland along with their families.
"There are dozens of young children, around 20 babies and toddlers, sleeping rough. There are also pregnant women and grandparents sleeping in tents," she told The Independent.
"It's horrific, unbearable. How anyone can live in woods pregnant? How do you have a one-month-old baby in a tent? How do you manage that?"
Paris Refugee Ground Support's Young, who has been working with refugees in France since last year, said the families in the unofficial camps tended to be the same ones "again and again", although there is also a number of new arrivals.
Source: The Independent, Edited by website team