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France

Iranian migrants in Calais sew up mouths in Jungle demolition protest

media An Iranian migrants has his lips sewn shut in protest at the razing of part of the Jungle camp in Calais Reuters/Yves Herman

A group of Iranian migrants have sown their lips together in protest at the partial demolition of the "Jungle" migrant camp in the French port city of Calais. The protest came as British Prime Minister David Cameron discussed the migrant crisis and other questions with French President François Hollande in the northern French town of Amiens.

French media reports that at least nine Iranians have had their mouths stitched  shut in the southern half of the camp, which French authorities began demolishing on Monday. 

The Iranians held up signs asking the United Nations to send a representative to visit the Jungle along with placards in English reading 'Will you listen now?” and “Where is our democracy?”.

The drastic step, already used by migrants in some other European countries, did not fail to move the authorities. 

In a statement Calais town hall said the protest had aroused “deep emotion”.

But it added “Nothing justifies such extremes when the state has done everything to take the migrants out of these undignified conditions.” 

France has offered the evicted migrants places in a limited number of heated containers near the Jungle or in one of 102 official reception centres across the country. 

Ahmad, a Kurd from Iraq, is one of just 32 migrants who agreed to leave the camp on Wednesday. 

“It’s because of the mud, the cold,” he told RFI as he climbed aboard a bus heading for Roche-sur-Lyon. “We have nothing to eat and are left to fend for ourselves. There’s nothing for us here.” 

But many of the several thousand migrants in Calais are reluctant to give up their dream of smuggling themselves across the Channel to England, where they have family or community ties or believe they have better chances of finding work. 

The latest protest came as French European Affairs Minister Harlem Désir announced that Britain would contribute 20 million euros to boost security at the northern port, in addition to the 60 million euros it has already provided.

The money will be used to boost security of the access zone to the tunnel .. and fighting trafficking networks,” France’s minister for European Affairs Harlem Désir told RFI radio on Thursday.

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