The District Court of Nantes has released an order to evacuate 500 migrants who have been occupying an abandoned gymnasium for nine months. However, the prefecture of Loire-Atlantique has refused to follow the court ruling.
The diocese of Nantes, the owner of the building, decided to go to court after their negotiations with the local aid group fell through.
“We first tried to negotiate with the support group, to find relocation solutions. But the situation deteriorated so much that it pushed us to ask for the evacuation,” explained Xavier Brunier, delegate of the bishop for solidarity.
The diocese also pointed out that the sports hall is not suitable for housing people as it was not built for that purpose.
When the migrants started occupying the building, the ceiling was leaking and other fixtures were broken already. The number of toilets and shower rooms are not enough for the number of people living in the building.
The poor living conditions in the abandoned sports hall have resulted to health deterioration and lack of security led to frequent brawls.
Despite the situation the prefecture of Loire-Atlantique refuses to proceed with the evacuation as authorized by the court.
“The uncontrolled increase in the population present and the lack of management of the site […] resulted in the evacuation order and accommodation of such a large number of people being no longer conceivable and a source of disturbance to the population,” noted the communication service of the administration.
The gymnasium houses migrants who mainly come from Guinea, Sudan and Eritrea. Every time an expulsion rumor broke out in other parts of France, the gym’s resident number rose with the arrival of new migrants from Paris and Calais who sought refuge.
Many occupants are waiting to be regularized thus they are covered by Dublin regulation. While waiting for their cases to be processed, they are left to fend for themselves since the government does not provide housing solutions.