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France: Judge blocks demolition of ‘Jungle’ restaurants

REFUGEE solidarity volunteers breathed a sigh of relief yesterday after a French judge halted the demolition of 72 restaurants and shops in the Calais “Jungle” camp.

The judge in Lille upheld the appeal against the Pas-de-Calais prefecture’s plans to knock down the premises — including the Jungle Books kids’ cafe — as part of their efforts to clear the camp.

He acknowledged their contribution to residents’ welfare, including feeding children and providing a place to charge mobile phones for calls home.

“The government says the restaurants are not safe, but they give people a space where they can calmly talk to each other,” said the owner of the popular Welcome Restaurant. “We give people a place to sleep when they do not have a tent.”

One 16-year-old refugee, who gave her name as Yama Ahmadi, said Jungle Books provided a refuge for youngsters.

“Outside there are only big men. In here we are safe.”

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