A former Roman Catholic monastery in the town of Troisvaux in Nothern France has been transformed into an asylum centre as the number of migrants in Calais starts to rise once again.
Opened in August, the new emergency asylum centre accommodation houses up to 100 beds for the growing number of asylum seekers returning to Calais after the destruction of the infamous migrant camp, known as the Jungle, last year.
The creation of the centre, formerly Belval Abbey, is an attempt by the French government to relieve the pressure on the city of Calais, L’Express reports.
The monastery was originally built in the early 20th century and was home to 80 Trappist Cistercian nuns who became locally famous for their cheese making. The last nuns left the abbey in 2012, though a local organisation took over the production of cheese.
The abbey is now home to migrants from countries including Eritrea, Somalia, and Chad, many of which are attempting to cross the channel to the UK.
Claude Picarda, who runs the centre and works with the association La Vie active, said: “Here they can stay, sleep, eat properly and take stock of their situation.” She added that some of the migrants were rejected asylum seekers from Germany and other European countries.
“Many remain convinced that they will succeed in moving to England,” he said.
Local residents are also not keen on the asylum home. The mayor of the town, which has only 50 residents, said he received several concerned phone calls while one local said: “It’s all a bit strange that we did this in an ancient abbey when some of them are not of our religion.”
The number of migrants heading to Calais has drastically increased in recent months despite many attempts by the French government to relocate them.