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Campaigners warn of ‘humanitarian disaster’ for refugees in France as 52 cross channel

HUMAN RIGHTS campaigners warned of an unfolding “humanitarian disaster” in France today after 52 refugees crossed the channel to escape coronavirus at camps.

The UK Border Force intercepted four inflatable boats and those onboard were taken ashore at Dover, the Home Office confirmed late on Thursday. 

The latest crossing comes a week after 169 people were rescued attempting to make the treacherous journey on March 25, with some brought to Dover and others taken back to France. 

There are believed to be up to 3,000 refugees stranded in northern France. 

The past weeks have seen conditions in the makeshift camps deteriorate significantly as the threat of coronavirus forces volunteers and NGOs to leave the region.

Two cases of Covid-19 have been identified in the refugee community in Calais. 

Catholic NGO Caritas, which ran a day centre in Calais but was recently forced by the crisis to close its doors, said refugees now “really have nobody to help them and nowhere to go.” 

Refugee Community Kitchen, which provides meals to asylum seekers in the area, also pulled out of its operations earlier this week. 

Founder of charity Care4Calais Clare Moseley highlighted the vulnerability of refugees in the area to coronavirus: “This is a huge concern because here they can't put in place the mitigation strategies that people are using elsewhere in Europe.

"They can't use social distancing, they can't self-isolate and they can't wash their hands.

"We urgently need the French state to intervene. We need help and we need it now, otherwise we're looking at a humanitarian disaster."

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